Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Practice Makes You Dirty

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2011 Jun 23

Posted by Jim_Daly Jun 22, 2011

My friend and colleague, Gary Schneeberger, is Focus’ vice president of communications. His office is right down the hall from mine and includes, among other things, a 7-foot-tall statue of Superman (that’s a story for another time). But among the many things on his desk is this little glass vase holding a pair of golf balls.

Now, I’ve been in many offices that contain golf balls from courses all over the world – from the famed St. Andrews in Scotland to Augusta National in Georgia to Pebble Beach in Monterey, California. Most of those souvenirs are either under glass or positioned on a tee and hold some personal significance, whether a hole-in-one or a miraculous birdie putt from 30 feet (made uphill and into the wind!).

Gary’s memento is a little different, although it does have a story attached to it. Both of the balls came from a trip he and wife, Karla, took to Hawaii in the fall of 2008. While there they hiked an abandoned resort golf course. They found dozens of golf balls buried in the sand and hidden in the grass, but these two popped out at him in a significant way.

 Both balls are Pinnacle brand. But the one with the Maui dirt still all over it is a “Pinnacle Practice” ball. The other is clean and pristine.

 “It struck me,” said Gary, “that when I looked at the two, side by side, that it’s a pretty good metaphor for life: We all want to reach the pinnacle (the clean ball), in a myriad of endeavors (work, family, spiritual maturity), but doing so requires practice – and practice not only takes time and patience, it will get you dirty. It’s from the lessons we learn in the mud, so to speak, that we can ascend to the places the Lord has prepared for us.”

 Is there some dream in your life that you’re itching to pursue, but afraid that you might encounter too many difficult and messy obstacles in order to get there?

 The Christian walk is not always akin to a lush, lilac-laden stroll along the green and rolling hills of a five-star golf course. As we all know, difficulty comes to all people. But if you’re living under the authority of the Lord, your life won’t be defined by the dirt or even the mud. In fact, if you take that chance and put in the practice, you might even find yourself agreeing with e.e. cummings, the 20th-century writer. Moved by the struggles and strains of the everyday, he once declared that “The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.”

 And indeed it is.

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