The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Pastor Jim Nichols
Seventh-Day Adventist Church 

Play the ball where the monkey drops it


This past Father’s Day, my youngest son, Alan, and I played for the first time at Sidney’s Hillside Golf Course.

It was a wonderful challenge with fast greens, lost balls and a healthy dose of sunshine. As you may know, there are many famous golf courses around the world that have some interesting ground rules because of their locations.

One of those courses is found in the country of India. The Calcutta Country Club has this beautifully laid out and maintained golf course, cut directly out of a jungle, full of native magnolia trees, home to a large population of monkeys. At the Calcutta Country Golf Course, Rule No. 10 reads, “You must play the ball where the monkey drops it!”

For reasons as yet to be explained, the monkeys have developed a special affinity or likeness for golf balls. You see, as the golfer’s club connects with the golf ball, there is this click sound that can be heard by the monkeys and immediately there is a rustling among the magnolia trees. The ever-vigilant monkeys spring from the trees in pursuit of the bouncing golf ball.

Simultaneously, the caddie launches forth into action trying to intimidate the monkeys, madly waving a golf club, as he races down the fairway toward the ball. making sure that the monkey does not disturb the ball’s lie. Usually these tactics succeed in preventing the monkeys from capturing the ball. But on occasion, however, it is the monkey who is successful and disturbs the ball’s lie.

As the monkey grasps the ball and flees, the caddie intensifies his efforts at intimidation. Invariably, at the approach of the human, the monkey will drop the ball. And here is where the rub comes. The monkey may or may not drop the ball in a good lie, that is, in the fairway, or even within the course boundaries.

To avoid all kinds of complications, per Rule No. 10, the golfer is not allowed the prerogative or choice of returning the ball to its original spot before all the action began, regardless of whether its position has been worsened or improved.

The spiritual point of this golf parable is that life often leaves us with “unfavorable lies.”

When we discover our fate, we are left with a choice: Either we expend our lives trying to change the unchangeable and bemoan our lot in life, or we deal with the reality. The first option only leads to frustration. The second option opens our lives to divine intervention, making something meaningful and worthwhile out of that which has gone wrong.

We live in a world that is very unpredictable and Jesus is calling us today to a faith forward future that will bring us deep spiritual assurance, hope and confidence, no matter what circumstances we face in this life. Every difficulty, disaster, obstacle, or challenge in this life is a call for personal prayer and a deeper faith experience.

Faith looks beyond this life’s circumstances and believes the promises of God. So, how do we cope when things don’t go the way we think they should? I believe God’s Word gives us an answer. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1,2)

Now, I don’t know the details of the race or life that is set before you. But, I know that faith has a lot to do with our success in handling the future as it comes. Why not exercise faith and live by these 3 spiritual rules:

Rule No. 1 - “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” Pray and let Jesus relieve us of our heavy burdens and give us His rest and peace of mind.

Rule No. 2 – “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Our race in life is uniquely our own and God gives us patience to enable us to keeping living this life successfully no matter what circumstances we face. James 1:4 tells us, “but let patience have her perfect work, that we may be complete, lacking nothing.”

Rule No. 3 – “Let us look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” No one understands better how to live this life successfully than Jesus. According to the rules of this life, yes, we have to play the ball where the monkey drops it, but we don’t have to let it ruin our game of living it victoriously.

Pastor Jim Nichols

Sidney Seventh-Day Adventist Church


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