Father Hopko, Golf, and Beth’s thoughts

I have always liked inspirational sayings. Maybe it is the writer and motivational speaker in me. Maybe, at one time, it was because I was grasping for something to kick my butt into the gear I knew was possible.
Recently, I came across Fr. Thomas Hopko’s “55 Maxims for Christian Living.”  The list caught my eye not only because I am like inspirational thoughts and am a Christian, but because religion seems to be playing a sizable role in the current political landscape.
To me, each item on the list is succinct. Then I began to wonder what others might see in this list – people who profess a different religion, or no religion, or those who believe in Jesus but aren’t church-goers? Would they see the actions of Christians they know on this list? Would they see my actions?
In the coming weeks, I will blog about each item on Fr Hopko’s list. Not in a heavy-duty theological tone. Light and REAL and, hopefully, fun! Here we go…
1. BE ALWAYS IN CHRIST
Talk about starting off with a big task! Volumes have been written about this subject. “What does it mean to be in Christ?” returned 3.6 million results on Google. So I took notes, compared notes, puzzled and puzzled ’til my puzzler was sore. Finally, I went back to basics.
2 Corinthians 5:16-17
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view…Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
More clear now?
BE ALWAYS IN CHRIST. Be the new creation He made…Which made me think about my golf lessons.
I started golfing at 26, after years of slow-pitch softball, backyard wiffle ball, basketball and tennis. Influenced by those sports, this was my golf routine: stand behind the ball and visualize a Tiger-like shot, address the ball (Hello ball! I am going to smack you), let the trouble begin. My “swing”was an inconsistent mess of arms, body manipulations, no torque. The results range from great to something a toddler could do, and everything in between. No control over the flight path or distance. Basically swat and pray.
Thus the lessons. I love the game too much and am too competitive to settle for mediocrity.  Thankfully, my instructor recognizes the analytical part of me and teaches to it – power in angles, in torque, in using the ground…the simplicity of two hip turns and an arm circle…the erasing of confusing terms such as keeping your eye on the ball, keeping your head down, lifting up – ideas that don’t illustrate the golf club motion at all.
Last week, my instructor was trying to explain the downswing and follow through in a way that helped me stop “swinging” the club at the ball…hip rotation, uncoiling, staying in the proper plane. Then BAM!            My A-ha moment happened!
“Essentially, I need to get myself out of my own way, and let the club do its job??”
“R-I-I-G-G-HHT!!!”
 Simple. Not easy.
Not unlike being in Christ.
If only the old was gone, just like that. POOF! If only I could watch my instructor’s golf swing, watch Tiger’s golf swing, and change my swing accordingly.
If only my entire being was new, consumed by LoveJoyPeacePatience.
But sometimes I am FearAngerUnrestIntolerance instead.  How about you?
The challenge with my golf swing is that during this reconstruction, I continue to play. The result is sometimes new, mostly an odd mixture, very occasionally all old.
Same challenge with life. We don’t get to go somewhere until we embody that new creation. We must continue living while we evolve.
Each morning, before my feet hit the floor, I give my day to God. I give my will over to His will. I visualize truly being in Christ, living out that new creation. You might do the same.
Then I get out of bed.
My heart’s desire is to be a living witness to the great Good News, an invitation to those who don’t know the power of His saving grace and love.
The reality is often a mixture of old, new/old, new. Sometimes I am that invitation. Other times, even though His love is unconditional, I know He is glad I don’t have a fish magnet and an I LOVE JESUS bumper sticker.  
How about you? Same same?
Think about what could happen if each of us who profess Christ made one vow each morning: to be witnesses to what Love has done for us, to show the Fruit of the Spirit so well that everyone lined up to get their own.
Each of us. Individually.
Not group efforts to abolish this sin or that sin. Not meetings and rallies to promote our political agendas.
Simply BE ALWAYS IN CHRIST.
Get out of my own way. Get out of Christ’s way. Put myself in position and let HIM do the work.
Imagine what could happen…
Sole Deo Gloria!
We will talk again soon…
BP 🙂