The Exam of Faith (and Golf Swings)
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.”
2 Corinthians 13:5
I enjoy golf. My dad taught me to play when I was very young. He told me that my size, (which was short back then) would not be a disadvantage in this sport. So, I took him at his word and ended up enjoying some competitive games through my high school and college years, and even into my early 30’s. Then life took over. Work, family responsibilities, other interests caused my golf game to suffer.
So recently, many years later now, I decided to make a determined effort to regain some of the form and confidence I had in those early years. For the last 2 months, I have been taking lessons from a golf professional, who has been analyzing my swing from setup to completion.
Now, the goal in golf is easily stated:
To return the clubface to the ball in such a way as to achieve maximum compression, producing the required distance and direction towards the hole, in a repeatable fashion.
Easier said than done! In fact, if the clubface returns to the ball even a couple of degrees off it can produce a shot that ends up in deep trouble. The farther it travels the greater the trouble. So, to achieve a correct, repeatable clubface at impact, all aspects of the swing must be evaluated by an expert on swing dynamics: grip, stance, posture, takeaway, swing plane, position at the top, downswing, shoulders, hips and leg movement, and finally club and golf ball fitting. Whew, I’m exhausted! All of this to accomplish the goal of returning the clubface, in a consistent repeatable fashion, to achieve maximum compression, producing the required distance and direction.
This takes us back to the top, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.” We are meant to examine our life to make sure we are achieving the goal, a life fueled by saving faith.
We are called to examine our life to make sure we are achieving God’s goal: a life fueled by saving faith in Christ.
This implies that we can be deceived, we can think we are living a certain way but may not be. Now, to examine and evaluate a golf swing you go see a golf professional with expertise in swing dynamics. Where do you go and who do you go to, for a faith examination? What aspects of faith would be under examination? How do you even get started?
Jesus is the author and perfecter of this faith that we are told to examine. He is our faith professional, so it would be personally foolish to start any place other than with Him. Coming to Jesus, with an honest desire to hear what He has to say about your life of faith, makes perfect sense. He knows you by name, he speaks in a voice you will recognize, he is your leader and biggest fan through life.
So, quiet yourself, ask Jesus something like this, “When you look at my life, from the inside-out, what do you see as it relates to faith? Where am I living by faith, growing in faith and where am I lacking faith, where are my faith-gaps?” Now wait, listen, see what he says, most likely not out loud but in that still quiet voice, that speaks so clearly and directly to your heart, your mind and your soul.
Do you hear him? If not keep quietly waiting. How about now? What is he saying? You can recognize that it is his voice because what you are hearing lines up with the One you know and the Scriptures He authored.
You can recognize the voice of Christ because it always lines up with the Scriptures He authored.
Close spiritual friends can be so helpful in this kind of faith examination. Going to those who love God, who you see as mature in matters of faith, who know you well, who will speak the truth in love, can play an important role in this faith test. Think about 2-3 people you know who fit this description. Sit down with each one individually, letting them know you are in a season conducting a 2 Corinthians 13:5 faith examination. Describe the purpose of what you are doing, asking them to pray and then get back to you with what they perceive; where they see faith in action and where they may discern some faith gaps in your life. Be open to consider what they share. I have done these many times over the last 40 years, often receiving affirmation and/or correction from these dear friends.
Searching the Scripture as it relates to this faith examination is a must. Faith is described throughout the pages of the Old and New Testament, like a mirror, revealing what living faith looks like, so we can see ourselves clearly and examine ourselves most accurately. We are told that our efforts in life are to be INSPIRED by faith…are yours? We are meant to LIVE by faith, what we can’t see, and not by sight, what is visible…do you? When we PRAY in faith, what we can’t accomplish becomes reality…do you experience this? Faith is seen in a humble, SURRENDERED life, one that looks up before it looks inward…does this describe you? Faith is the antidote to anxiety, worry and fretful living…well? Faith makes us COURAGEOUS, proactive in overcoming our fears and insecurities…is this taking place? Finally, faith in Jesus prompts and prepares us to PROCLAIM his gospel, not just in sermons but with those we encounter, as we live our daily lives…have you told anyone lately this good news? If this is not enough, take time this week to look at other verses on faith. A concordance either printed or online can be of great help in this. Quietly and slowly read, meditate and consider the implications of these words and what they reveal about your faith, in this season of life.
I don’t tend to like examinations, but this examination of faith, has been so helpful in enabling me to keep making forward progress with Jesus over these last 40 years. This is one exam I plan on taking on a regular basis in the years to come (along with my swing examination, of course). My prayer is that it will be for you as well in this opportune season of your life.
Copyright ©2017 Mike Moran. All rights reserved.
Mike has served in Christian ministry for over 26 years, serving churches in both California and Washington state. Before entering the ministry, Mike enjoyed a successful career in business, working in the field of sales and marketing. While serving as Senior Pastor in the Pacific Northwest, Mike became one of the founding members of the 6:4 Fellowship and shortly thereafter became a part of the Transformational Ministry Team with Strategic Renewal. Mike currently serves as a team member with Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), helping churches across the country grow through pastoral transition. Mike’s passion is to provide leadership, coaching, and training to both pastors and churches so they can experience renewed vision and greater intentionality in accomplishing their God-given mission. Mike has been married to Nancy for 38 years and they have two children.