"Suppose you are walking in a forest, talking with God, and you hear the tap, tap, tap of a woodpecker. You break off the trail and off your talk with God to look for the woodpecker—have you stopped praying? Not if by seeking the woodpecker you are 'considering the ravens.' If Jesus asks us to consider the ravens as a way of striving for the Kingdom, isn't straining to see a woodpecker a kind of striving after the Kingdom?" —from Long Wandering Prayer

Go long, or go home." That's what my friends and I say about our favorite golf course. It's cheap and beautiful, but you have to hit the ball a long way to get around strung-out doglegs cut into woods so thick I won't go in for a ball without a bag of breadcrumbs and a chain saw.

"Go long, or go home" in my prayer life means "Pray long, or you might as well quit the ministry." When the lion Busywork crouches in my study, roaring sticky notes, smelling like a deadline, licking up my time, I defy him to get between me and my time with Christ. I pray many hours every week, no matter what the circumstances in my church.

That's why I golf so much.

My wife, Debbie, is a psychologist. She tells me that inconsistent positive reinforcement is the most powerful inducement to repeated behavior. Give a dog a treat every time he rings the bell and he will stop ringing the bell. Give the dog a treat unpredictably, and the dog will ring the bell until the Cubs win the World Series and keep on until they win again.

Inconsistent reinforcement keeps us coming back for more; in gambling we call it addiction, in golf we call it obsession. So I hit three great drives in a row; I can't stay out of the trees for the rest of the day. A great putt on 18 and my friend says, "That'll keep you coming ...

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Winter 2006: The Drive: Sexualized Culture  | Posted
Commitment  |  Formation  |  Prayer  |  Soul  |  Spiritual Disciplines
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