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by Rubel Shelly


    I’m not a golfer, but my sons have gotten me onto the links a few times. They even put me a set of clubs together from some of their rejects. They’ve taught me how to address the ball, keep my elbow straight, and search through high weeds and dense undergrowth! I’ll never be a threat to Tiger Woods.

    There is at least one lesson about life, though, that is illustrated perfectly by the game. When a ball misses the fairway and lands in the rough, you’re supposed to “play it where it lies.” You can’t pick it up and place it back in the smoother fairway. It’s cheating and taking unfair advantage to improve your lie by moving it to an easier spot that is free of obstacles.

    Get the point? You can’t always take the easy way out.

    This thing called life has some rough areas, too. Financial reversals, job insecurity, cancer, difficult people, unreasonable demands — these things present serious problems for us. Most of us have been heard to whine about how unfair life is. We contend that these things shouldn’t happen to good people. We sometimes even blame God for creating the world so hardship and pain can flood into our experience.

    In our better moments, though, I think we all know that these rough times form and strengthen character. They call out the best in us. They teach us to be honest about ourselves. They take the edge off our arrogance. They invite us to trust God. It is the person with no hardships to face who is to be pitied.

You can’t always take the easy way out.
    A biology student was dutifully recording her observations as a monarch butterfly struggled desperately to emerge from its cocoon. It appeared to be hopelessly trapped in an unyielding bondage. So she took pity, and cut a tiny slit in its prison. The butterfly was free! As she continued to watch, she discovered that it not only failed to display the striking colors of a monarch but soon drooped and died. At the expense of the insect, the novice in science had discovered that without the tremendous exertion necessary to get free from its cocoon, a member of an otherwise remarkable species will not develop strength and beauty.

    Spiritual novices are prone to the mistake of thinking we would be better off without constant challenge. But the easy way out isn’t always a worthy path. “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors” (James 1:2-3, The Message). If you’re playing in the rough right now, don’t give up. Play through.

      © 2001, Rubel Shelly. Used by permission. From Rubel Shelly's "FAX of Life" printed each Tuesday. See Faith Matters for previous issues of the "FAX of Life."

      Title: ""
      Author: Rubel Shelly
      Publication Date: August 7, 2001


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