golf ball sand trap close mulligan close callIf you’ve ever played golf you are familiar with a golfer’s best friend: the mulligan. A mulligan is an extra stroke allowed after a poor shot, not counted on the scorecard. Usually all the players have agreed before the round that a mulligan is allowed. No, a mulligan is not professionally acceptable, but it has kept many an amateur from blowing an otherwise decent round with a single wayward shot. How about you? Could you use a life mulligan? I know many people who feel their 2015 ended on a low note and that “failure” is carrying over to start the new year. If that’s you, take a mulligan and start fresh. Here are three key ideas to keep in mind as you
“tee it back up” in 2016.

Your failure does not define you. I’ve always found it interesting in baseball that a player can consistently fail 70 percent of the time and make millions of dollars. Look at the history of the game. There have only been five people since 1920 who have accounted for a total of eight seasons where they reduced their failure rate to “just” 60 percent, and the last person to do that was Ted Williams in 1941 (when his hitting average was .405). During that same time there have been approximately 15,000 Big League players. That’s a lot of failure, yet there is a Hall of Fame for players who overcame challenges day-in and day-out, showed up to play the next day and ultimately achieved a sustained level of success. Failure did not define them and it shouldn’t define you.

Your identity is not rooted in who you are. A study done not too long ago by California State University focused on the effects of Facebook and other social media and found that Generation Y — Millennials — exhibit higher rates of narcissism, isolation, and alienation than any previous generation. One respondent said that the day-to-day decisions Millennials make, from the clothes they wear, to the coffee they drink, to the people and places with whom and where they associate, are made to build a personal brand.

But let’s be honest. Millennials are not the only ones suffering from narcissistic tendencies. Everyone does. It wasn’t enough for Adam and Eve to find their identity in the God Who created them, they wanted their identities to be rooted in themselves. They wanted to be worshiped, and its been our problem ever since. Jesus came to show us the way back. He course-corrected our worship from ourselves to Him. When you become His follower, you not only identify with Him, you identify in Him.

Jesus asks this question in Mark 8: “But who do you say that I am?” Lots of answers followed and still do today. We acknowledge Jesus as having supernatural and special abilities, and we look to Him for what He can do in our lives. Unfortunately we fail to rise above His “doing” to the reality of who He is. Our religious commitment too often revolves around the “Christian cult” of Jesus and is not born out of authentic worship purely rooted in and flowing from the reality of Jesus as God.

And that reality is where your identity is found.

Your “mulligan” is just one prayer away. I can’t think of many verses in the Bible that offer any greater relief or reassurance than 1 John 1:9. Praise God for His grace in showing us how to constantly and continuously find our way back to Him. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In that single statement, our loving Heavenly Father — the God Who created us, controls all existence with His righteous right hand, knows the end from the beginning, knows the plans He has to prosper us, and sent His Son to overcome our ultimate failure — restates that our past does not define us. If His mercies are new every morning, that means He wakes us up each day prepared to give us a new start.

So as you prepare to “tee it up” in 2016, decide that with Christ and in Christ you will put the challenges of 2015 behind you and look forward to walking closely to the Savior this year.

It is a joy to be on this journey with you.

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