We are currently in the middle of a new series, “Getting a Grip” on finding God in your family. When I hear our sermon series title golf comes to mind, because in golf they have a saying ‘grip it and rip it.’ Growing up, my dad taught all of my brothers and me to play golf when we were very young. It was not optional. He continued the tradition, teaching his grandkids too. However, growing up we used to hate it. We played when it was windy and we played in the snow. One time we went to play when the green was frozen solid and the staff would let us out on to the course. Despite all that time practicing and playing I still had room for improvement. For example, one afternoon I hit my brother with an errant golf ball as he was playing on another green. Rubbing his soon to be bruised skin he yelled, “Tim, you always do that!” I responded truthfully, “I couldn’t do that even if I tried.” After all those unpleasant, grumpy, uncoordinated experiences, as we become men we’ve learned to love golf.
One time out on the green, I was with my three brothers and dad playing golf at Apple Tree in Yakima. Storm clouds were closing in on the horizon, so we had the course to ourselves. So here we were playing one of the most beautiful courses in the state all together. We were young and our dreams were fresh. Suddenly it started to down pour rain. We weren’t going to let it stop us from enjoying this rare opportunity.
As we approached the signature green shaped like an apple in the middle of a beautiful pond. One of my brothers complained, “it’s raining to hard out here.” My dad always the one to make his boys into men responded, “Aw, there is no rain. It is a beautiful day somewhere. ‘This is the day the Lord hath made and I will be glad and rejoice in it.’ Let’s just tough it out.” We all ended up having beautiful drives and our next shots were iron shots approaching the par four.
When it was my dad’s turn to shoot first, he swung into the heavy rain with all of his might. He swung so hard that the ball bounced two feet in front of him. Despite this disappointment his swing took a surprising turn when his nine iron flew perfectly toward the hole. We all thought it was going to be a hole in one with his club. It was a high arching flight, flipping in the air just barely missing the hole. My dad just turned and said, “I think I will play my club instead of the ball.” We all laughed so hard we almost fell down. That is why they say, ‘grip it and rip it.’ You can’t play golf unless you grip the club. And you can’t find God in the family unless you are very intentional about it.
I loved Doug and Jeanie Sutten’s story they shared this weekend with church of God at work in their family. He is so present in their family because they place him there; on their vacations they have devotions by different family members every day. They intentionally keep their kids involved in church. They sit together in worship. They share rejoice when their grandson accepts Christ. They share stories of God’s presence in their lives, in their blessings. And they were very intentional about this important task. Sharing stories about God has deep Christian and Jewish roots. We tell the stories of our families in faith just as Passover is celebrated. We are a family of God and instead of filling sorry for ourselves we reach out and adopt others into our family and drive down deep roots of friendships and faith.
I hold fast to your statues, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. Psalm 119:31
Grip it and hold on – when it comes to faith in your family.
Your friend for the rest of my life,
Pastor Tim White