Archive for March 2nd, 2010
Today (Wednesday, March 3), I am traveling back to Austin where I will help with the funeral of Jackson Bradley, famous golf teaching pro and devoted follower of Jesus. Jackson passed away after a rich full life of playing on the PGA tour, being a famous golf instructor, being club pro at some of the most cherished golf courses in the country, and using the last two decades of his life to share Jesus with people he loved. One of his greatest joys was in helping begin Bible studies at a halfway house that eventually became Freedom Church, a church plant made up predominantly of ex-offenders who were turning their lives around with the help of Christ.
After the post on Lynn Anderson yesterday and while preparing for the funeral message for today, I came across this powerful insight written by Miles Alpern Levin, about a month after he was diagnosed with cancer. His blog on carepages.com inspired many and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate message to share for all of us!
I went to the driving range the other day and I was thinking … I was thinking how you start out with a big bucket full of golf balls, and you just start hitting away carelessly. You have dozens of them, each individual ball means nothing to you so just hit, hit, hit. One ball gone is practically inconsequential when subtracted from the your bottomless bucket. There are no practice swings or technique re-evaluations after a bad shot, because so many more tries remain. Yet eventually you start to have to reach down towards the bottom of the bucket to scavenge for another shot and you realize that tries are running out. Now with just a handful left, each swing becomes more meaningful. The right technique becomes more crucial, so between each shot you take a couple practice swings and a few deep breaths. There is a very strong need to end on a good note, even if every preceding shot was terrible, getting it right at the end means a lot. You know as you tee up your last ball, “This is my final shot, I want to crush this with perfection: I must make this count.” Limited quantities or limited time brings a new, precious value and significance to anything you do. Live every day shooting as if it’s your last shot, I know I have to.” — Miles Alpern Levin, July 7, 2005.
I know Jackson would have quibbled with Miles — well actually, he would have been much firmer than quibbling — about wasting all those practice shots early in the bucket of balls. “Don’t want to groove that bad swing and ingrain those bad habits!”
Jackson wanted you to loosen up with some short shots, then he wanted you to waste nothing — not one ball in the bucket. But, we all do, don’t we. We all mess up, goober up, stumble, sin, flub up, hit a shank or two, and then we notice the bucket of balls is getting thin on balls. I know Jackson had regrets — times and people he wished he could go back and do better with. But I am most thankful that the years I knew Jackson, he lived life recognizing the preciousness of grace and the opportunity to make a difference.
And yes, Jackson, I still shank one from time-to-time because of that square to square curl the three fingers on the back swing thing that you despised and tried so hard to help me get out of my swing. Blessings, dear brother, I’ll catch you on the back the nine, where our swings will be natural, the iced tea will be sweet, and nobody will ever need to improve their lie.
Some people come into your life and make a lasting impression in your thinking. Others leave an indelible imprint on your heart. Others help form your character to be more Christ-like. Others invest in you and help you refine your skills and wisdom to do ministry. Lynn Anderson has done all of that for me, and more, … and is still doing it through the face of hardship and challenge with cancer.
I first met Lynn when I was in high school and he came and did a campaign in our city. When I went to college, he was my preacher and his daughter, Michelle, was in our high school group huddle. Then a few years later, Lynn included me in his first graduate student study group. Several years after that, he ministered to my father through his years of illness and did dad’s funeral. Then three and a half years later, Lynn did the wedding of my mother to Grady Jolly.
Over the years of ministry, Lynn’s been available to counsel and encourage me through some challenging and changing times of ministry. He was there when I let the elders at Westover know I was moving from Austin to Abilene, and he even preached twice a month for over two years as they waited for God to lead them to a new preaching minister. My latest book includes Lynn in the dedication. Such friends are rare treasures and to have one that keeps on growing and reminding me that the journey to Jesus is one full of wonder and excitement, even amid the pain and challenge, is a special blessing.
Thanks Lynn! Love you and am praying for you and Carolyn as you choose to live in the green leaf!