Ok, for those of you who have never played golf, I will attempt to explain this to you. In golf, you have to count every stroke it takes to get the ball into the hole. You may, on a rare occasion after hitting a bad shot, ask for a mulligan. If your playing partners agree to it, you don't count that shot and hit another one to take its place. Everyone understand? Now, when you get as old as I am, it is always good to play with younger players. That way you can claim a senior citizen mulligan for every nine holes. Of course, it is not written in any rule book, but I always seem to get away with it. Then again, maybe that's because my partners usually beat me by eight to ten strokes anyway, so they let me think that I'm two strokes better than I really am.
It may seem silly, but it always feels good, after hitting a terrible shot, to be able to redeem yourself with a better one. It's interesting that the second shot is almost always better than the first one. I wonder why that is? There is actually more pressure on the second try than the first, because you never ask for two mulligans in a row. That would be really bad form.
Right now you are probably wondering why it is, that you are bothering to read the musings of an old football coach, who takes liberties with his golf score? Good question. It's probably because you are fascinated with inner workings of the mind of a person, who has spent almost forty years trying to get teenagers to run one lap. Or, maybe you are just bored because no one has been posting any thrilling news on your facebook wall. You know, like "just went to Starbucks and ordered triple chocolate caffeine free mocha something or other." Don't want to miss that news!
Well, if it's the first reason, here is where I was going. It occurred to me that so often in our lives, we wish we could take a mulligan. Think about it. How often would you like to take back something that you have said or done and then get to try again? Sometimes, we know immediately that something we have said or done was wrong. How we wish it wouldn't have happened. It was not what we wanted to say or do and we would love to do it over right away. Sometimes we get that opportunity, but often we don't
When I was coaching, there were many times I wanted to take a mulligan. Sometimes, I might make a play call and before the play would even start, I knew it was a bad call and the result of the play would not be good. Guess what, no mulligans in football (unless of course the other team got a penalty, but I'm not sure that counts). Usually, you just have to live with the results and try to make up for your mistake by doing better on the next play. There were games where our coaching staff would have liked to have taken a mulligan on our entire game plan. It's kind of like realizing that you should have hit a nine iron instead of your sand wedge. You thought the plan was good, but it came up short. If you have no idea what I was just talking about, please refer to "The Complete Guide to Golf for Idiots" or tune in to the Golf Channel.
On a much more serious note, I have to admit that there were times I would have loved to have taken a mulligan on something I said or how I handled a situation with a player. How you speak and act toward your players has a much more lasting effect on them than the amount of games you win or lose. I always tried to remember this when dealing with my players but I know that sometimes I said or did the wrong thing and there was no mulligan to be taken. You had to live with the consequences of your actions. Those consequences can be very painful. You know this to be true, because all of us have suffered loss of relationships by things we have said or done, have we not? We have had to live with the results of bad decisions that we wished we could have "done over." Oh how we would love to take a mulligan!
Well, I am sure by now that you are trying to figure out what spiritual application there is to this post. It's quite simple really. Do you realize that God gives us a mulligan on life? In spite of all the times we miss the mark (sin), rebel against God, do or say things that would hurt Him; He has granted us a mulligan. God gives us the opportunity to come to Him, receive His love and forgiveness and start life over. He allows us that second chance to get it right. Have you ever thought to yourself, "I just wish I could just start over?" That's what God let's you do. When you come to him in repentance (which means agreeing with him that you have been going the wrong direction and agree to turn toward Him), He will forgive you and bring you into a wonderful relationship with Him.
The purpose of Jesus dying on the cross was to give you life. Not just life, but a much better life than the one that you have been living without Him. John 10:10 says, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." He has suffered the consequences of our sin, so that we don't have to. The theological term for this is called justification. You may think of this as "just as if I never sinned" because that is how God looks at us once we have received Jesus as our Savior. Look at these verses
Ps 103:10-12, "he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."
Heb 10:17 "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."
Even after we receive Christ, we are going to make mistakes. We will not live perfect lives. But guess what, as far as our relationship with God is concerned, we still get mulligans. God continually forgives us and gives us another chance to do it better. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
This is a continual process. We are continually cleansed and continually forgiven. We are warned however to not take this forgiveness lightly. If we do the Bible declares that we are Godless. Jude 4, "For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only sovereign and Lord." God's grace is a marvelous thing, not to be taken for granted. I can't imagine after my playing partners have granted me a second chance, that I would purposely hit another bad shot, just to see if they would give me another one. We want to be thankful for God's amazing grace and ask Him for the power to do it right the next time!
If you are ready to take a mulligan on your life, to start over and live it God's way rather than your way, follow the game plan.
GAME PLAN: If you have never received Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, I pray that today you would make that commitment and begin your new life. If you look to the right side of this blog, you can find the steps on How to Become a Christian. Talk to another believer and share what you have done. Find a church that centers on teaching the Bible and get into fellowship with other Christians. I promise that you will never regret the decision you made.
May God bless you as you walk with Him, Coach