I am a social golfer, though the way I golf I’m not entirely sure it is socially advantageous to do so. When I golf it’s usually to spend time with people I love. Or to connect with someone new. Sometimes men can talk better and they are more likely to open their hearts to one another about important things if they are doing something with their hands.
It must have been fifteen or sixteen years ago that I went golfing with Bob. Bob was seeing my sister-in-law and he seemed like a decent guy. We would get together from time to time. We ate out together a few times and got together to socialize and play Trivial Pursuits.
He had been friendly to me. I wasn’t sure what his spiritual take on life was and I hoped by sister-in-law would marry a man who knew God. I had a serious case of mixed feelings when it came to Bob. I was eager to approach the subject of spiritual things, but I didn’t want to be clumsy about something so important and so intimate.
I decided that I would pray a lot and carefully time and even script my approach to him. I golfed a predictably horrible round of golf. If I remember right, trying to carry a river that ran through the course, I drowned three or four balls. Bob was clearly not a cutthroat competitor but he golfed well.
He was fun to be with and fun to talk to, but we were from different worlds. While we golfed I silently prayed for the right timing and the right spirit and the right words to begin the process of accessing the deepest part of his soul and speaking about eternal matters.
We finished our round of golf and it was a sunny spring evening. Afterward we were riding together in a truck hauling some furniture when I moved to bring up spiritual matters. As I recall my words were very close to this; “Bobby, do you consider yourself a person who is interested in spiritual things?” His answer was immediate, unguarded and positive. I took it as permission to press farther. “Bobby there is something that I have discovered that has changed my life and given be peace like nothing before, someday if you are interested I would like to sit down with you and explain that.”
I paused hoping that my direct attempt at opening the door to a very personal subject would not put him off. There was only a short silence and then he said with warmth; “Well, Ken if it is important to you, I would like you to tell me about it right now.” I never reach this point with a person without a strong sense that I am on holy ground.
Just before Thanksgiving that year we all gathered in a quaint little chapel on a beautiful, unseasonably warm and sunny Saturday and it was my privilege to sing the Lord’s Prayer and preach Bobby and Linda’s wedding.
Today Bob is a strong Christian man, a thoughtful, loving husband, and an outstanding Dad. Bobby and Linda have six of the most beautiful, bright children I have ever known. He is an enthusiastic and devoted servant in his church. He has a strong consistent testimony in the business community. He is a dear personal friend and a strong influence in the lives of my own family. The other day my oldest son said that Bob was one of the most influential people in his life. Since my first tentative approach those years ago, some of the most stimulating and refreshing conversations I have ever had about spiritual things have been with Bob.
I think about that round of golf when I am a little hesitant to approach the subject of spiritual things with someone I love. When I talk to God in the morning I often ask Him to put people in my life like Bob, people that are as eager to hear about the things of God as I am to share.