Friday, March 14, 2014

The Outdoorsman's Diary: Disc Golf and the Faith of Throwing

The snow is surely melting here in Minnesota, and as the sun destroys the towering banks aside the roads, I begin dreaming of my favorite sport: disc golf. The confident flight of a small circle of plastic is a sight I can’t turn away from. As Spring nears, I begin mapping out the holes on my favorite courses, imagining myself throwing professional-level throws through the fields and forests of Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

I sincerely envy those in the South, who get to play disc golf all year long. Of course, I’ve stubbornly played here in the winter months, only to spend more time searching in knee-deep snow for buried discs than actually advancing down the course. It may be crossing the line as a Minnesotan, but sometimes I do enjoy a brown Christmas because that means more time throwing discs (then again, snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, and winter camping would be left out...).

Despite how some pull corny life and spiritual lessons from their favorite sports, I find value in corny lessons that ring true. In ball golf, for instance, the grip of the golf club is perhaps the most important element if one wishes to achieve a good game, and so the devotional for golfers, written by Jim Sheard and Scott Lehman, is aptly named, “The Master’s Grip.” 

If it’s true, who cares if it’s corny?

I would say disc golf is riddled with life lessons, especially those that relate to living with an unpredictable God. The numerous elements that impact the flight of the disc is enough to make one pray for a miraculous throw. Despite the necessary training and skill required to make expert disc throws, there still remains a degree of luck on the disc golf course, and many throws are done out sheer chance due to thick undergrowth or tight fairways where tree trunks host an unforgiving path. It may get aggravating at times, but these hindrances make this sport fun. There is something exhilarating about throwing a disc out of faith, hoping to make an average shot look professional as it weaves through obstacles. Sometimes I think discs have minds of their own.

As we maneuver through the choices in our life, we may feel like we are throwing a disc out of faith. We can’t see a clearcut path to where we want to be, and all the difficult choices only make it harder to take a confident step forward. Sometimes we see a wide open path, and confidently throw ourselves through it, only to have a crosswind destroy its glorious flight. 

No matter what obstacles or unknown forces that life insists on placing before us, we know that God is the holder of the cards. Even though deciding on life’s choices can resemble blindly throwing a disc in the brush, God is wise and able enough to make our throws weave through obstacles. Sometimes our discs will crash through branches and prematurely fall to the ground, but perhaps our chosen paths are not what God desires for us. 

Like the disc golf course, life hosts obstacles and difficult decisions, and no matter how much skill we have, or think we have, it is ultimately God that helps us. He helps us practice and train, but he also helps us in ways unknown to us. Sometimes we think we get lucky, but I believe using the term, “lucky,” is only an opportunity to avoid crediting God. We must continue to throw ourselves down the path--or fairway--and have faith that God will direct us, no matter how frightening the obstacles may be.

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