Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Monkey and the Golf Ball

A story has made the rounds for the last few years about a golf course in Calcutta. I heard it for the first time a week ago at an Eagle Court of Honor. Here' the story as shared by a blogger.

"The story is told of a golf course in India. Apparently, once the English had colonized the country and established their businesses, they yearned for recreation and decided to build a golf course in Calcutta. Golf in Calcutta presented a unique obstacle. Monkeys would drop out of the trees, scurry across the course, and seize the golf balls. The monkeys would play with the balls, tossing them here and there.

At first, the golfers tried to control the monkeys. Their first strategy was to build high fences around the fairways and greens. This approach, which seemed initially to hold much promise, was abandoned when the golfers discovered that a fence is no challenge to an ambitious monkey. Next, the golfers tried luring the monkeys away from the course. But the monkeys found nothing as amusing as watching humans go wild whenever their little white balls were disturbed. In desperation, the British began trapping the monkeys. But for every monkey they carted off, another would appear.

Finally, the golfers gave in to reality and developed a rather novel ground rule: Play the ball where the monkey drops it. As you can imagine, playing this unique way could be maddening. A beautiful drive down the center of the fairway might be picked up by a monkey and then dropped in the rough. Or the opposite could happen. A hook or slice that had produced a miserable lie might be flung onto the fairway. It did not take long before the golfers realized that golf on this particular course was very similar to our experience of life. There are good breaks, and there are bad breaks. We cannot entirely control the outcome of the game. "

It's a good story with multiple messages:
1. The breaks aren't your fault. Sometimes life just happens. Resist the urge to take responsibility for all of the problems that come in life. They aren't all your fault!
2. But some of them probably are your fault! We all make mistakes. If you made one, admit it. But here's the good news: even the breaks that are your fault can be redeemed by God. God's in the business of taking the past and making it new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Be made new! You still have to play the ball from where the monkey dropped it, but your "score" starts over.
3. Sometimes we're the monkey in the story. We think about ourselves as the golfer when we read the story, but sometimes we take the role of the monkey. Don't monkey around with someone else's life. But if you do, drop the ball on the green, not the rough.