Tag Archives: temptation

Cabin 19: Footprints in the Snow

The wind was steady and the snow was blinding. I could barely see my own outstretched hand as I shuffled through the deepening snow. My bare legs were now numb from the cold as I plowed through drifts nearly up to my waist.

Jesus’ footprints were barely visible and disappearing quickly. I had to keep moving. I found myself running, stumbling, falling, getting back up — again and again.

My numb shins began to burn and itch from the prolonged exposure. My eye lids were nearly frozen shut. I had to keep peeling off the frosted flakes in order to keep my eyes on the trail Jesus was blazing.

Worse than the cold wind and blinding snow, was the deafening silence I was experiencing. Snow has an insulating effect, a way of dampening the sounds of around you, until all you can hear is your own breathing and your own thoughts.

And the last thing I wanted in the world right now was to be left alone with my own thoughts.

“Jesus!?” I had been yelling out continuously, but I hadn’t heard his voice for probably 30 minutes — which felt more like 30 hours.

In the ripe silence my thoughts grew louder. Have you ever listened closely enough to your thoughts to discern they often take on different tones? At one moment they had the voice of a scared child crying out for help:

Where is he leading me? How much further? I’m cold. I want to go home. Please slow down, Jesus. I can’t keep up.

The next moment my thoughts had the sneering tone of the Accuser:

This is all your fault! You brought this upon yourself! You should just lay down, close your eyes and fall asleep into peaceful oblivion. 

Then the voice of truth again:

No, follow Jesus’ footprints! That’s all I need to do. He will guide me through this.

But the snow only increased and the tracks were beginning to disappear. A huge blast of wind came suddenly, and I found myself stumbling forward, face first into a drift. In the few seconds it took to gather myself, I had somehow lost my sense of direction. Which way was I heading? My cold, numb muscles struggled to pull me to my feet.

When I finally stood up and looked around, the footprints had completely vanished.

Continue reading Cabin 19: Footprints in the Snow

GOLF & GOD (3): Sand Traps: Blessing or Curse?

raking3I worked on the grounds crew at Burl Oaks Golf Club in high school for four years.  I absolutely loved almost every aspect of this job — mowing the greens, fairways and roughs, moving the hole placements, landscaping, washing and gassing carts.  I can still smell the fresh morning air as I remember mowing greens as the sun rose over the dew covered grass on a perfect summer morning.

There was, however, one aspect of this job that was absolutely miserable — raking sand traps and bunkers.  For some reason, our manager refused to purchase a riding sand pro bunker raker that operates much like a lawn tractor with front and rear rakes. Instead, he sent my buddy Jason and I out with hand rakes and helmets to rake each of the 50 or so sand traps by hand.  I recall spending a couple hours in the those mini deserts on a hot, muggy 100 degree afternoon preparing for a tournament.  Sand traps are hot, miserable places to be working in; and they’re even worse places to be when you’re playing a good round of golf!

For the golfer, sand traps are hazards positioned in the golf hole to guard the desired position in the landing area or green. When the average golfer finds themselves in a bunker it usually slows them down.   Continue reading GOLF & GOD (3): Sand Traps: Blessing or Curse?

GOLF & GOD (2): Playing the Fairway

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt 7:13-14).

HS009095The flag stands some 500 yards away on a sharp dog-legged hole to the left filled with many potential hazards.  The fairway is narrow and lined with sand traps and deep rough on either side.  You do some mental distance calculation and conclude that you could possibly cut over the pond and rough on the left and if you hit it just perfectly.  There’s nothing like “going for it” and turning a dog-legged par 5 into a par 4 by cutting the corner!  Should you go for it?

Every golfer knows the situation I’m describing and can relate to the temptation to trying to take a short cut to the pin.  I mean, who’s disciplined enough to play a short wood or even an iron off the tee in order to play the fairway and set yourself up for a good second shot?  Besides, if you succeed in flying over all deep rough and water, and somehow land in the fairway, you’ll have a great chance for birdie. Continue reading GOLF & GOD (2): Playing the Fairway

Adventures in Mark 1 (1:9-13)

Today we begin an ongoing series of reflections on Mark’s gospel.  Saddle up for a discipleship adventure!

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert,and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (Mark 1:9-13)

The problem at the heart of the biblical narrative could be simply labelled “an identity crisis.”  Ever since Adam the human race has been trying to figure out their true identity, and from that their true purpose on earth.  The Israelites continually forget who and whose they are.  And we follow in their footsteps daily.

Jesus is portrayed as the “second Adam” (Rom 5; 1 Cor 15) and the true, faithful Israelite throughout the New Testament.  Here in Mark’s story Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness are meant to evoke both the 40 year period of the Israelites who forgot their identity and fell into temptation, as well as Adam and Eve in the garden surrounded by wild animals who also let temptation overcome them.  In this episode, Jesus shows us the necessary pathway to and pattern for spiritual faithfulness.

The pattern is this: We first need to be reminded WHO WE ARE in order to withstand the snares of the evil one and all the temptations of the flesh. Continue reading Adventures in Mark 1 (1:9-13)