Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I spent last week in California at a wonderful orientation class to my denomination’s vibrant heart for the world. The Evangelical Covenant Church is planting churches in communities that don’t resemble mine. I witnessed incredible people serving the poor, the marginalized, and communities of refugees and immigrants. 25% of the Covenant’s churches are now labeled “ethnic.” Whether first generation or fifth generation Americans (the U.S. ones), race still divides our nation and our churches. Many of my colleagues are opening their arms to heal these fissures.
After four powerful days of developing friendships and awakening myself to the possibilities of the Church, I rented a car and enjoyed a quick 48 hour vacation. I soon visited my cousin Cecily and her two beautiful kids who live near San Francisco. I headed south to meet up with the ever-faithful Jeff who pulled a few strings and landed us a tee time at one of the Pebble Beach golf courses. Yes. The Pebble Beach. Perhaps the mecca of golf so to speak. I guess I should more accurately say the community that has developed golf courses on God’s wonderfully created California coast.
We played for free. That’s right, I said free. It would have otherwise cost $375 – per person! So being cheap and a mediocre golfer, you know I would have never spent that kind of money on a round of golf.
The course was incredible. The views beyond belief. The conditions immaculate. (Yes, I would be willing to eat off of the fairway.) The customer service beyond imagination.
The ocean was bluer. The fairways greener. The greens firmer. The sand traps steeper – and challenging. Painfully, frustratingly awful – I mean challenging. The rough was rougher.
Though I was in the sand more than a kindergartener in a sandbox at recess, I was in awe. I took more photos than a proud parent of a newborn. I was spoiled rotten: completely undeserving of the extravagance and opportunity to play one of the world’s elite golf courses – especially with my abilities. If my final score were the temperature of any city in the country…that city would be Phoenix…in July.
Though this may not have been a God-ordained round of golf, there are definitely a few lessons to exegete. I think heaven may be a bit like an outing on 17 Mile Drive: a group of people undeserving, yet spoiled rotten. People ecstatic and in awe. Perfect conditions. People being allowed to enter with no possible way to pay that price themselves.
My prayer is that the whole world may have the experience of being spoiled rotten. That they would be made aware that utter poverty and racial division may be their fate, but that knowing God yields acceptance, hope, undeserving grace, and invitation to be in awe of the God who made the oceans.
Thanks Jeff. Thanks God.