Monday, August 11, 2008


Once a year, the first week in August, our family is overcome with "Golfitis".

There is a local junior golf tournament that our kids have played in for several years. It is a 3 day tournament and kids come from all around the area to play in it.

Some of the complimentary gifts the participants receive upon entering the tournament are: a shirt, a sleeve of balls, a golf towel, a golf umbrella and more. All a player has to do to get these gifts is to sign up to play.

However after 3 days of play there are "special prizes" awarded to each golfer according to their overall performance.......

1st through 6th place trophies are awarded for each flight in every age group so nearly all of the kids get a trophy. Some are a little bigger than others but the kids don't seem to mind, they are thrilled to have such a beautiful piece of hardware and they all feel like winners!

However, this year I know of 3 kids (one of whom was my son) who didn't receive a trophy because they were disqualified from the tournament before it was over. Their offenses were very different but the results were the same; they could finish the tournament but were ineligible for the rewards at the end.....

On the second afternoon of play my son found himself playing in a group of cheaters. These boys were so blatantly cheating that the group ahead of them turned them in. When confronted with their behavior two of the boys admitted their deceit while the third lied. When my son was asked if he did anything wrong he answered truthfully:

"on one hole I lost my ball near a sewer. When I couldn't find it I dropped a ball and gave myself a penalty stroke."

Unfortunately the rules state that under those circumstances he should have returned to the tee box to do the shot over. The fact that my son didn't know that rule didn't matter, he was guilty of breaking the rules and was disqualified from the trophy race.

After getting over the initial anger and disappointment I have seen some very valuable life lessons here:

1) Be careful who you associate with!
If he had not been with cheaters no one would have questioned his game. Sometimes we choose to be with people of bad character but other times, like in this situation, life just places us there and we had better know how to handle ourselves. Not only do we need to hold ourselves to an even higher moral standard, we should do whatever we can to separate ourselves from their sinful ways or it may be THEIR behavior that brings US down. Had he been playing with people who knew and followed the rules they might have been able to stop him from inadvertently breaking them.

2) Care more about doing what is right than how you look to others!
When he noticed these kids cheating my son could have told a field Marshall what was going on but he didn't want to look like a "rat". Sometimes it is in our own best interest that we stand up and do what's right even if it is not the "popular" thing to do.

3) Ignorance is no excuse!
Breaking the rules is breaking the rules and the consequences are the same whether we break them intentionally or inadvertently. Similarly, sins of omission are no different than sins of commission. God isn't interested in excuses!

4) Who we are now will determine who we are (and what we have) in heaven!
Take for example the boy who cheated, lied and got away with it. He ended up winning the 5th place trophy in his flight (coincidentally, that would have been my son's prize had he not been disqualified). It certainly isn't uncommon to see people get ahead through deceitful behavior, but the bible says that if we have received our reward on earth it will not be ours in heaven. On the other hand, I have to believe that because my son chose to do the right thing and forgo the earthly reward, he will be rewarded for his honesty.

5) Being disqualified from the tournament doesn't mean we can't complete the game!
All 3 boys were allowed to play out the day even if they were ineligible for the rewards at the end. I believe our salvation is secure once Jesus is our Lord but should we choose to remove Him from the throne of our life, we are choosing to forfeit the rewards He wants to give us.

The final spiritual parallel I saw in this situation was from a different perspective. Just as Jesus is our advocate I saw my husband search the rule book until he found an "exception" to the rule that seemed to justify our son's position. In the end it didn't change the outcome, but our son has seen that even though he made a mistake his father loves him dearly and is willing to be his defender.

I do want to be perfectly clear that I don't believe in "earning your way into heaven based on performance". Just like the "entry gifts" of the tournament our salvation is ours to keep once we have placed Jesus as Lord of our life. What I do think is, that just like the golf trophies, the way we live our "earthly lives" as Christians will result in rewards we receive in heaven.


Kim said...

Ouch....but ya Kelley, these types of lessons are "great" life lessons and a lesson your son will not soon forget.

What a great way you lined this lesson up with scripture!!

We all make mistakes, but OH, I'm SO thankful for God's grace.

What a GREAT Mom you are, to take a situation like this and use it as an opportunity to build character. After all, God is far more concerned about our obedience...rather than our happiness.

Have a BLESSED day.


Amy said...

That's a great lesson, Kelley. A tough one, but one we all need to be on top of.

Yesterday, our youngest son and his friend did something that they were not supposed to, and my husband and I
had a very similar talk with both of them. Specifically targeting your numbers 1 and 2.

I am going to let my son read this post too. It's a great example of what we were talking to him about.

Thanks for sharing it so honestly.
God Bless,

luvmy4sons said...

Good for your boy. It is hard when our children see people who seem to be getting away with it, but I always assure them that the Word of God is true and we are told, "Be sure your sin will find you out." Love your lessons! Good stuff here today. Bless you!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

A good, yet difficult learning. How many times have I found myself in the same boat?

Thanks for the pondering.


Pamela (MrsJoeB) said...

What a tough experence Kelley. As a mom I would want to fight to defend my child over not being aware. Penality for innocence seems so unfair. Sounds like our Chirst. What a bummer but a great lesson and great spiritual insight here. Thank you.

In His Graces~Pamela

Laurie Ann said...

That was so unfair, Kelley, but I love your sweet spirit and the lessons taught to us through the circumstances at hand. *Hugs*

Janna Rust said...

After just playing in a couple of golf tournaments myself, I am very aware of the rules and of the dreaded "DQ" (disqualified) on the scorecard.

There are so many rules to golf, it is hard to keep track of them all. Unfortunately, ignorance is no excuse and enforcing rules like this for true ignorance is still fair because some people claim "ignorance" and really do know the rules. Sometimes I've had to rely on the knowledge of my playing partners to get things straight! As with everything, live and learn! We can learn a lot about life through gol, that's for sure.

Runner Mom said...

Wow... what a life lesson occured for your family. I am so proud that your son told the truth, even though he was DQ'd. He will never forget that. He will grow so much through this experience. It's not one of the pleasant ones that we enjoy, but the valleys do happen, and we become stronger in our faith. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I, too, am going to let my boys read this post.

Love ya,
How did your app. go today? You've been in my prayers. :)

Paula (SweetPea) said...

Wow, what a great lesson and tying it all into our spiritual lives. Your children are blessed to have such a wonderful mother and role model to care enough to share these lessons with them.