I have walked a few wonderful golf courses. I say ‘walk’ and not ‘played,’ because on one I was only a spectator and I’m not sure you could call my quality of golf ‘play.’ It was more like I ‘played at it.’
Three courses stand out to me. When I was a junior in HS, we took a trip to the Black Hills of SD, where my older brother was working for the summer. The course was difficult (Black Hills!), but it didn’t matter for the beauty all around us was overwhelming! When I was in my 30s, I spent a day at Muirfield Village Golf Course in Columbus, and my golf hero was playing, Arnold Palmer. It was overwhelming as well, not just the beauty of the course, but the level of play.
Then there was Terrace Hills Golf Course. I knew this course by heart. It was just outside the town I lived in Iowa, and for several summers, I played at least once a week. Terrace Hills began in the 1960s as a nine-hole course and later become eighteen. As I said, I knew that course well – the best places to lay up your ball as you approached the pin, the places to avoid: sand traps, water hazards and the muddy spots on the fairway to avoid after a rain. Whether the front nine or the back, I knew if I had a certain score by the fifth hole, I could finish with a tolerable score… and maybe, just maybe if everything went just right, I’d break 100. Never happened.
There is a Book I have come to know pretty well, and I notice that the word ‘course’ is found in it multiple times. Now Moses and Aaron and David and Paul didn’t play golf course, but each of them wrote of a course in life. It is used of sections or groups of priests who served in the temple; it is used of the movement of the planets; it is used of running a race; it is used of a line of travel; and it is used of a series of events. A course is the pattern of nature. So the Bible has a lot of say about the earth and your life.
Everyone reading this today is following a course. And just as when you complete eighteen holes, you’re done, the course is finished, so my life, my sons’ lives, my grandson’s life and yours will follow a similar pattern. We are born, we grow up, go to school, learn a skill, make a living, many of us marry, have children and grandchildren. Then except for an accident, disease, war or a violent act, we all grower older, weaker and then…we die. The course is over, we’re finished on this earthly journey. But, there’s more to come.
The Apostle Paul said, I have fought a good fight, "I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7-8
The question you must deal with today is this, ‘Are you ready for the last step in the course of your life?’ For you see, "…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Hebrews 9:27-28
When it comes to the end of life, there are no mulligans. You have an appointment… once to die, then comes the judgment. That judgment is determined not by a score, not a list of good deeds outweighing the bad, not were you part of the right religious group. It’s all determined by what you have done with Christ. Have you received Christ as your Savior, the one who bore your sins on a cruel cross and was raised again? You do not have the promise of a final round of golf and even another day to live. But you do have this promise, ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ Saved from that final judgment for Christ has already paid the penalty.