Just Rain? Or Opportunity?

Kirk Walden 1st Faith, Coffee With Kirk 1 Comment

Before my senior year as a golfer at Auburn University, our golf coach retired and after several years under a coach I’d known my entire life (I’d grown up in Auburn, too), a new man was at the helm. And everything changed.

He was a fitness advocate, and before we knew it, we (golfers, for goodness’ sakes!) were lifting weights, running and doing all kinds of things I didn’t think a golfer needed to do. Keep in mind, this was in the 80s, before golfers were ripped like Tiger Woods.

For me, the weights and the running were intimidating. You’ll be shocked to know; I wasn’t the well-built, powerful physical specimen that I am today. Then, I was 125 pounds soaking wet and lifting more than a golf club was a chore. Today of course, I’m . . . heavier.

Moving on . . .

With weight lifting, each morning my muscles (I’m assuming these were muscles, anyway) hurt. And the running? We were out at Auburn’s track one day and as we were running (in my case, “loping with purpose”) I looked to my left to find an Olympic Gold Medalist—really—blasting by me even as he was just warming up to really run.

After that, humility was not much of a problem for me.

Even with the intimidation and humiliation, I was learning what it meant to better prepare for success. Then one day, I got an incredible lesson in what it means to shift my outlook on any situation.

At one of our team events, I’ll never forget waking up to a steady rain one Saturday. Knowing we would still have to play, my first thought was, “Oh my, nothing but umbrellas and towels today.”

Our team was sitting 9th or 10th in a field of 18 teams; I wasn’t looking forward to five or six hours of drenching as our team sat mired in also-ran land.

But just as I was thinking we were in for a day of drudgery, Coach banged on our hotel room door, barging in with a huge grin on his face.

“This is GREAT!” he told us.

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what was so great about a day-long soaking while carrying golf clubs.

“We’re moving up the leaderboard today boys,” he said with a smile. “Because I can guarantee you 80 percent of these teams gave up when they saw the rain. They don’t want to be out there today. They’ll be playing, but they’ve already quit.”

He wasn’t done. “Not us. We’re going to jump over a lot of teams today. Just go out there and watch them quit—then let’s blow right by them.”

Suddenly I didn’t care about the rain. My attitude shifted in a moment and I couldn’t wait to get out there.

Our coach was right; other teams struggled all day because of the rain. As I watched others grumble and complain, we took advantage and made our move. We soared from the middle of the pack up to 2nd place, nearly taking the lead, in one day.

When we finished our round, we were soaked but smiling. All because of a coach who saw a situation and interpreted the same facts so much differently than the rest of us.

Which makes me ask, “How do I view situations today?” I think of a certain demand on my time which, too often, I look at as something I must muddle through. Funny thing is, I usually enjoy it–a lot. But at others, I find myself counting down the hours and minutes until I’ve completed the task.

If I’m going to grow in my faith, I need to shift my thinking. If God places a task in front of me, I should see it as an opportunity to advance my faith and encourage others as I complete the mission ahead.

My college and (extremely short) professional golf career wouldn’t appear—on the surface—to have been successful. But, it taught me a lot about perspective.

And it seems to me, perspective matters to God. When I view His calling—whatever it may be—as nothing more than another day in the rain, I’m likely to miss His presence and in the end, miss out on what He wants me to accomplish.

But when I see what appears to be an obstacle and instead see opportunity, I wonder if my Father turns to His right hand, nudges Jesus, and as a smile crosses his face, says, “I can do something special through him today.”

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