You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. -1 John 4:4
I thought I was a good golfer…not great but good…okay, maybe average to moderately decent.
Perhaps my old roommate from college could attest to my outstanding golfing skills. He has, after all, witnessed my spectacular athleticism by teeing off with what was to be a 300 yard tee shot only to hit a birch tree next to the tee off area and bounce back at us…yes did I say spectacular? Maybe I meant spectacle. Nonetheless, my perceptions of my golf skill level was and still is greatly exaggerated…Tiger Woods I am not. Flash forward to a couple of years though, and I thought that I had this game figured out. I could tee off fairly regularly, I would slice a lot but I was compensating for my learned form, my thrift store golf clubs had been replaced with a wonderful Christmas present golf set that was all mine. I was entered into a golf tournament, a four person scramble and had been practicing quite a bit…I felt pretty confident. I felt great about my skill level that is until I had my picture taken on tournament day.
Glancing at it now I can recall how confident I felt, how proud I was of my seemingly incredible skill level. Then I looked at the picture. I didn’t look like Phil Mickleson, or Ernie Ells or any other professional golfer for that matter; in fact what I saw troubled me. The picture was of me in full swing, my 1 Wood club in hand and I had just taken a swing at the tee. The thing that troubled me was my form. I had just assumed I had mastered the golf swing, but the photograph before me didn’t lie. My form was terrible and evident to all who saw that picture. In this infamous photograph the golf club that I was holding was stuck in a half swinging arc that represented how I traditionally struck the ball…and it was not pretty. Long story short, my follow-through looked dreadful. In golf the definition of follow-through is: to complete (a stroke or shot) by continuing the movement to the end of its arc, to pursue or aim to it’s conclusion. What I saw that day in the photograph was a half-follow-through…the end of the arc within my swing was supposed to be behind my head, but my swing ended at my shoulders with the golf club pointed skyward. To a non-golfer perhaps this image doesn’t mean much, but to anyone who plays golf, or attempts it like I do, you will know that without a good follow-through swing the golf ball will inevitably slice left or right, the power behind a shot will be limited and finally repetitive motion and form like this could cause physical harm within the back of the would be golfer.
There is a very real spiritual application to this important golfing principle. The Spiritual Follow-through of a Christian is his or her spiritual formation…their learned form within the context of salvation, scriptural understanding and basic theology. Without correct follow-through in the spiritual realm of things, one can learn dangerous and often times harming half-truths. The golf club, so to speak, will only arc skyward and within this ill-form, the follow-through could lead to slicing holiness, biblical understand, moral living way out into some very dangerous hazards on the course of life. God’s Word should be treated with respect and reverence. Biblical understanding of life principles is a shared task between the spiritually mature and those still young in their faith. Application of holy living should be practiced and displayed within the context of the Christian community. After all, if we are Christ-followers, we are to be set apart for His holy purpose and his example to the world of God’s redemptive and restorative love. When we venture out into the world untrained and ill prepared to declare this good news to the masses we potentially short change and misrepresent God’s message to those who need it most. In essence our follow-through could be lacking depth and godly form. Don’t misunderstand me, His Holy Spirit can and will equip us for His holy purpose, but we also have work to do! 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…”
How do we correct bad form within our spiritual follow-through? We study scripture; we ask difficult questions, we surround ourselves with brothers and sisters in Christ who are spiritually grounded in the Word of God and will challenge us to deepen our faith and hold us accountable when we are lacking. How is your spiritual follow-through at this moment in your life? Are you lacking? Does your follow-through need work? If it does, and I’m sure we all need a little work in this area of our spiritual walk…let’s get serious about improving our swing! Let’s get serious about deepening our faith in Christ. When we improve our follow-through, His Word can and will become a greater, more equipped source of hope and light to those we minister to in this world. So take your follow-through to the next level…and keep swinging!