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Rev. James Ellis, III Headshot

Good Times in a Golf Cart

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"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." We know this to be the famously repeated adage of his momma from Tom Hank's endearing character in the 1994 film Forrest Gump. She was right, you know? Life presents us with an assortment of challenges and blessings that we don't always deserve nor have a clue how to manage well, but we are nevertheless enticed to dive into the intoxicatingly sweet treats, to at least try them out, because of their appearance and aroma. Yes, life is like a box of chocolates, but I am learning that it is also like driving a golf cart.

This statement may be vocational sacrilege to some since I am a pastor and we are perhaps well-known for spending much of our free time on "the green," but I am not a big fan of golf. Plainly put, never having played a round of it myself -- unless the miniature or putt-putt variety counts -- it is not appealing to me at all. Standing around in all types of weather swinging a tiny club trying to skillfully whack a teeny-tiny ball has no appeal to the former football player in me. By all means, however, Godspeed to those who are motivated to invest the time and money to excel at the sport. I hear that it can be quite relaxing, strategically challenging, and athletically strenuous. I will have to take your word for it.

However, there is one aspect of golf that has always held my attention, and that is the golf cart. I can't say precisely why, but I have always wanted to drive one. Over the years my wife and I (she isn't into golf either) have discussed how cool it would be to one day not play golf, but ride in a golf cart together. Ah, the small things that brings a young bride and groom in ministry joy, with your limited budget and coveted quality time!

So, one afternoon not too long ago I arranged for such an outing for us at the nearest golf course, one replete with rolling hills, a respected regional reputation, and droves of geese who stroll around the property like yesteryear's gang members looking for rivals to tussle with (think The Warriors or Grease). It took a while to explain to the pro-shop employee that I had no interest in or need for clubs, shoes, scorecards, or golf paraphernalia. No, I just wanted to command a cart.

With no cold Colt 45 to speak of, in my best Billy Dee Williams voice I asked my wife if she would be so kind as to accompany me on an undisclosed rendezvous, to which she responded affirmatively. Upon realizing that we were going to finally explore a golf course together I could tell that I had won a few husbandly bonus points. I have found that a creative date, whether impromptu or planned, organic or manufactured, goes a long way in holy matrimony. Praise the Lord for bonus points!

Well, let me tell you, we drove around that golf course for probably upwards of two hours having a good 'ol time. We discussed our hopes and dreams. We shared our fears and struggles. We commented on the course's meticulous landscaping all while keeping one eye open for those overly territorial geese who kept hawking us as if they wanted some static. We chatted about the lack of racial diversity of those who were in the midst of actually playing golf, quite seriously I might add with faces scrunched-up in apparent concentration. We laughed about us probably being the only semi-youthful yahoo's to have come around in a long time wanting not to golf at all, but just to drive a cart. We also, however, chuckled about the golf cart itself.

Ours seemed to be a bit mechanically challenged. It didn't have much get up and go and took its good old time to come to a complete stop when it finally did significantly accelerate, which was more the result of gravity (i.e., coming down a hill) than anything. The turning radius wasn't great, oh, and the steering a bit jerky. We kept wanting to zoom up-and-down the thoroughfare like Speed Racer, but that never really happened. Plus, we did get lost a few times. In our haste to flee charging geese we had to go off-road a bit, and in the melee became navigationally disoriented.

Isn't that just like life? Things don't always (sometimes, oftentimes) work out in the ways that we have meticulously planned for them to. When we want to accelerate God often puts the breaks on our lives in order to get our full attention. Not that God should have to, but, you know, we are prone to disregard divine direction otherwise. We become easily distracted by what isn't working well that what is, and what we ought to appreciate we are unable or unwilling to. We desire that which is newfangled, advanced, and progressive, that which comes with bells and whistles wrapped in a bright, shiny bow. We are easily lost in the sauce of ease. We live petrified of our own shadow, medicated by our own madness, and utterly ungrateful.

Life is like driving a golf cart, I have learned. In order to enjoy the experience -- to truly appreciate the blessing of it all for all that it is worth -- you have to go with the flow. Of course, as good stewards we do what we can do improve our respective plights, but with God as our guide we must accept the perfect imperfections of the ride.

If Jesus is in the golf cart or on the boat with you (Mark 4:35-41), then nothing is really that bad. In Psalm 46:10 God says to us, "Be still, and know that I am God."Originally posted at Day1.org