On the Kenai golf course last Monday I took a moose-again.
Many of you will be familiar with the concept of a "mulligan." After hitting a bad golf shot a player declares a mulligan and simply re-hits with no penalty. Several different stories trace the term to various men named Mulligan but the basic concept is the same in them all. A person named Mulligan has a good excuse for not having his bad shot count. For example, some cite a John Mulligan who played in the afternoon with some friends who had played earlier in the day. Since they had been practicing and he hadn't, he told them it was only fair he be able to hit again after his first shot went bad. Other golfers heard the news and a tradition was born.
My friend and I have recently started playing without allowing any mulligans. But last Monday at Kenai on the back nine I was charged by a moose who was spooked after hearing some golf carts up ahead. It was a true charge. He actually stopped and spent a moment looking at me before making up his mind. I was walking alone in a flat area with no trees and no one nearby and an entire course for the moose to run to for safety. I had to retreat and grab the right club. What do you use for a charging moose? Is that a five iron shot?
Thankfully he veered off before he came too close. But when I returned to my golf ball I hit a really lousy shot and felt totally justified in hitting again, declaring a moose-again.
How easy it is to excuse our bad shots! I could have simply waited for my heart to settle down and my eyes to refocus and then hit my shot. But I, like most of us, am a master of rationalization.
If you act a certain way I may hold a grudge and never forgive. If I act that way it was only because of my circumstances. I deserve a mulligan, and more than one. In some rounds of golf, a player can hit a third shot by calling it a Finnegan, a fourth declaring it a Branagan and even hit again calling it a Flanergan!
Jesus tells of a man who owed a huge financial debt and begged for forgiveness. The debt was cancelled but then the man turned around, went to someone who owed him a small amount of money, and had the guy thrown into prison! That first man lost the forgiveness he originally had and was himself jailed. Jesus says this is what will happen to us if we don't forgive others from our heart.
Jesus is clear in many places in the Bible. If we won't allow others a mulligan, God won't allow us one. Search your grudges and find someone you need to forgive. Offer it freely. You never know when next you'll need a moose-again.
Rick Cupp is pastor of the Kenai Fellowship, which hosts Sunday services beginning at 10 a.m. and Wednesday Prayer and Bible study at 7 p.m.