The Seventh Hole

I like to hang out on Twitter. Yes, it’s a madhouse,  but there are some sane people to follow. What I’ve noticed though is the number of people who are very afraid right now. Especially when it comes to issues like financial security and the well being of those they love.

 I experienced fear as a debilitating force in my life for years. It wears many masks and can even hide behind a few others (denial for instance). One of the exercises I completed in the 12 Step Program is to identify how much you are controlled by various habits and emotions: anger, resentment, lust among many, and to rate their impact on your life on a scale of 1 – 10. Good thing I’d used a pencil. I was confident fear wasn’t much of a problem for me but as I started getting healthier I realized what a huge impact fear was having on my life. 

It seems right and sensible to be afraid when there are so many things we are powerless over – which is why the command not to fear is stated over 300 times in the Bible. Fear is a big enemy and I’m so grateful to have been (mostly) set free of it. 

The opposite of fear is not, as you would assume, courage, but faith. If I have to depend on my own resources I’d be foolish not to be afraid. But when I trust that there is a sovereign God who loves me as He loves every human on this wild and crazy planet then I can rest. Do I think that means I may not face great hardship – not for a moment especially in this moment. I feel like the whole country is collectively holding its breath waiting for the other shoe will drop. As it will.

But these two things ground me: God’s ultimate goodness and God’s sovereignity. I haven’t always liked what God has allowed into my life. In hindsight I can always see the purpose – which has always been for my good.

This poem is dedicated to two groups: the golfers who have struggled like I have with the chasm on the 7th hole at the Royal York and any of you who might be wrestling with some fear in the current circumstances.

The Seventh Hole

On the first six holes my club carves a carefree arc
that sends the ball skyward in an echoing parabola. 
All the truths I’ve learned are proved. Physics –
elementary physics. Distance equals rate times time, 
give or take a few degrees.
I rely on these rules like old and faithful friends.

The seventh hole starts at the top of a small steep hill,
an easy par three - a hundred fifteen yards
if the pin is forward.
You tee off 
on the lip
of a chasm
to the green 
hanging on the opposite lip.
No room for error here, nor mercy for the faint.

The chasm foils me every time.
 It gapes 
between me and the smug green –
its greedy gullet   
sucks the ball out of the air -
again. 

The chasm is a constant. 
It’s no surprise to find it here;
it crops up everywhere.
I have seen it in my dreams,
just as daunting, taunting –
You can’t get there from here.

Fear skews the equation,
exerts a negative force that nullifies the rules.
Rate times time plus fear goes nowhere.
David’s stones would have landed, 
lamely, at Goliath’s feet. 
The laws engraved on my hands 
and etched on my mind are impotent  
in the face of my foe.
A greater power than fear must rule me.
Love Himself must come and free me.


I absolutely love this image. The jeering giant, the mocking masses and the boy with nothing but belief in a powerful God. The contrast in size, strength and light – wonderful.

If you find yourself struggling with fear right now there are many on-line Bible apps and a search for ‘fear not’ might be helpful. To quote an old expression, “He’s as good as his word”.

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