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Shining in Texas

Andrea G. Schwartz
  • Andrea G. Schwartz,
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Years ago, my husband decided to involve our children in golf, a sport he had played recreationally as a child. He thought it would be a great sport for a homeschooled child since it was an individual sport. He has observed more than once that golf is an activity that helps develop patience, diligence, and control of one’s temper. It is very consistent with the fruits of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22. Golf is a game of rules, rarely played with a referee present. It is a game of honor; players are expected to know the rules, obey them, and call penalties on themselves for infractions. This, too, is consistent with the biblical perspective that one is responsible to govern oneself according to God’s law-word.

This past week my daughter and I flew to Texas for a prestigious golf tournament, combining it with a homeschool gathering where I was the guest speaker and she sang. I expected that our opportunity to let our light shine had more to do with this event than the tournament. God had something else in mind.

In round one of the two-day tournament, I was present as a spectator, following her, cheering her on, and enjoying a nice walk in a very pretty place. Usually, I walk ahead of her group so that I can spot errant shots to help the golfers find their balls, thus helping the pace of play. In most tournaments, parents are not allowed to speak to their children either giving advice or conversing in general. The rules state that parent-spectators are only to acknowledge good shots and point to where a ball has landed – nothing more. On the eighth hole of this 18 hole round, I saw my daughter inadvertently break a clearly defined rule of competition. I could see that she had no idea that she had breached the rule and neither of the girls in her group brought it to her attention. I knew this meant that she would be disqualified as soon as she began the next hole.

I was devastated. We had flown 1700 miles to compete, and I knew that I was going to have to “blow the whistle” on my daughter. I wish I could tell you that I immediately dismissed all the tempting thoughts that rushed through my head as to how I was justified to keep this information to myself. But one thought kept repeating over and over, “The Truth will set you free.”

Since I was close to the parking lot where I had left my cell phone, I called my husband in California and explained my dilemma. We agreed that I needed to make this known, but decided to wait until the end of the round so that our daughter would have a chance to explain to an official what had happened, as there was a chance I was reading the situation incorrectly.

I went back on the course and immediately ran into a very friendly official. I explained the situation and he agreed to let her finish the round, and then he would have another official drive her back to the hole in question and settle the matter. He told me how impressed he was that a mom would call a penalty on her own child, especially since no one else might have discovered the infraction.

Another very familiar passage of Scripture ran through my head:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
(Romans 8:28-32)

With God as my model, I knew that as difficult as it was going to be, that I could not spare my own daughter.

When all was said and done, my daughter WAS disqualified, although the folks were very kind because they knew she did not intentionally sidestep a rule. After all the tears were over (from both of us), we agreed that in order to be true to our faith there really had been no other option.

Since we had come such a distance, the tournament officials let her play the course the following day, although not as a competitor. This lessened the blow but additionally gave us the opportunity to see how God would use the situation. Every official and most of the volunteer members had heard our story and congratulated me for my honesty and my daughter for the character she showed when confronted with the reality that she was no longer in the tournament. She was told it was evidence that she had been raised well. Rules officials handed us business cards letting us know that if we ever needed anything to call them and that they were honored to have met us. I had the chance every time they applauded my integrity to point out that it was because of my faith in God and His rules that I acted as I did.

For years, I always prayed that as Christian homeschoolers we would be bright lights for the Kingdom of God when it came to the golfing arena. I must admit that I imagined and hoped this would happen because of my daughter producing good golf scores and winning her share of tournaments. Truth be told, I never intended nor wanted the spotlight on us for a situation like this. However, as I am continually learning, God’s ways are not always our ways!