Sometimes They Just Need A Mulligan
“And he called the twelve to himself, and began to send them out two by two, and he gave them power over unclean spirits. He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts – but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics. Also, he said to them, “in whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city! “So they went out and preached that people should repent.”
– Mark 6:7-12
Many golfers put markings, such as an initial, dots or lines, on their golf balls so that they can easily identify them. My wife, Nancy, bought me a ball marker that enabled me to put the three crosses of the crucifixion on my golf balls. The three crosses made them readily identifiable and served as a small testament to my faith in Jesus Christ.
Working as a marshal one day a week at a local golf course allows me to interact with hundreds of golfers. I recently tried a small experiment in witnessing. I took some of my extra golf balls with the three crosses printed on them and left them on the first tee box on the golf course for golfers to find and use as “mulligans,” or “do-overs”, if they didn’t hit their first tee, shot well.
Watching how golfers reacted to the marked balls reminded me of how people react to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some golfers saw the golf balls, but simply ignored them and took no interest in them. In the same way, some people have no interest in hearing about Jesus Christ. They turn their heads or close their ears and eyes to avoid being exposed to the gospel message.
When Jesus sent His disciples out to preach, as in the verses above, He also warned them that not everyone would listen. In such cases, He instructed them to wipe the dust off their feet and walk away. In other words, He prepared them for rejection, which was not to deter them from continuing to share His good news. Likewise, as disciples, we must not get discouraged when somebody shows no interest when we share Jesus Christ. As a sales manager once told his staff, be thankful for every “no” that you get because it means you’re getting that much closer to a “yes.”
Another observation occurred when a golfer teed off and hit his ball a very long distance–into the woods which were full of brush and weeds. He picked up one of the balls with the three crosses and said, “This is a Christian ball.” I was gratified that he recognized the three crosses as a Christian symbol and that he knew a Christian had provided it. He then teed the ball up and hit it a very long distance again–straight down the middle of the fairway! I took the opportunity to say, “That Christian ball really helped you didn’t it?” He replied, “Yes, it did.”
A lot of people are introduced to Christianity at an early age, but with time and age, they begin to wander off course and find themselves lost in the trees, thickets, and briars of life. They need a mulligan or a do-over to get back on course. When we to tell them about Jesus Christ, we may serve as the mulligan they need to get back on course and “to trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
I observed another golfer’s reaction when he picked up one of the mulligan balls. He saw the three crosses on the ball, and he walked over to a trashcan and threw the ball in the trash. We often shy away from sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those whose behavior and words seem the most antithetical to, or the opposite of, Christian behavior. They may seem hostile to Christianity; mired in sin, almost unredeemable. We don’t find them in church.
But Jesus said, “In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous ones who do not need to repent.“ The greater the sin, the greater the joy one feels when receiving the forgiveness of Jesus. The redeemed are eternally grateful when they experience the contrast between a life mired in the darkness of sin and one lived in the light and love of Jesus. We should not shy away from sharing Jesus with those mired in sin. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9
Pray: Dear Father in heaven, please help me to be bold and find ways, under the guidance of your Holy Spirit, to witness through word or deed to anyone I encounter regardless of their words or demeanor. Help me to not be discouraged if my words or actions are rejected. Amen.
Rev. Jerry Parker
Retired Associate Pastor