Back in April I wrote about how the young but hugely talented golfer Rory McIlroy folded under the pressure at the US Masters (see here: https://brandnewheartnz.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/when-the-pressures-on/).
Just two months later and at the very next major, McIlroy not only holds his nerve but smashes records and opponents in winning by 8 shots. Impressive to say the least! A key to his success was his determination to learn from his previous failure. He didn’t wallow in it; didn’t beat himself up over it; he simply accepted it and worked hard so that when he was in that situation again he would handle it better. It’s fair to say that he succeeded.
I see two big lessons for the Christian heart from what McIlroy learnt. The first is to have confidence in what’s true and the second is to take things one step at a time. At the US Open McIlroy embraced the fact that he was good enough to win and be the best in the world. It meant that he had the confidence to handle any setback and overcome any obstacle. It wasn’t arrogance. He simply recognised what was true. In Hebrews 3:1 the writer addresses his audience thus: “Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling…” That’s so cool! In Christ we are holy, we share in the heavenly calling, we are new creations, saints, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, raised with Christ to the heavenly realms, alive with Christ…you get the picture! We can live with confidence because we are in Christ; “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).” We share in that overcoming. We share in Christ’s victory over death and evil. We share in his intimate, Spirit-empowered life with the Father.
McIlroy also shared that he broke down his rounds into smaller goals e.g. Be 1 under for the next 3 holes; hit the next 3 fairways, be 15 under by the end of the day. It stopped him from getting too far ahead of himself. By his own admission this was his big mistake at the Masters – he saw himself with the trophy but he couldn’t see the steps required to get there. The song goes “one day at a time sweet Jesus.” We call it our Christian walk or journey. The book was Pilgrim’s Progress. Thinking about following Jesus for the rest of our lives can be overwhelming, but we can follow him for the next hour! We can stop and pray for a minute right now. We can read our favourite verse when we get home. How do we finish any journey? One step at a time.
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).