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GUEST COLUMN: Tee times and pink elephants

Deck Cheatham

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton.

John came home Sunday after playing golf, greeted his wife Sue and asked, “What did the preacher preach on today?”

“Sin,” she said.

“What did he say about it?” asked John.

“Don’t do it,” Sue replied.

John asked, “Did he say leaving church early for a tee time was a sin?”

Sue answered, “No. He didn’t. He left after the last hymn. How did you play today?”

Satisfied, John said, “I played good. Beat the preacher 1 up on the last hole!”

Since the first bite of the apple, sin has been the pink elephant in the room. We try not to think about it, but our repression amplifies the image. Apple consumption is at an all-time high. Our fondness for the fruit has sensitized our palates and cultivated our taste for those Galas and McIntoshs, Detroit Reds and Fujis among the many.

We chose to elevate the apple to cliché immortality, not satisfied with resting in its nutrient sweetness. In our efforts to re-frame, re-phrase and re-package this pink elephant, we did not dare say — a sin a day keeps the doctor away.

But let’s not stop in our quest. Let’s revel in its multiplicative products – apple butter, fried pies, candied apples, cider and so on — name a computer, phone and a whole company after the tasty fruit. Adam’s first bite doesn’t seem so original anymore, does it?

Our relationship with sin is no relationship at all. Sin exudes our being as oxygen fills our lungs. Our conflict is not so complicated or misunderstood, it’s simply inconvenient. It doesn’t fit our will. It doesn’t fit God’s either.

There is a theme to our shalt nots. Each one is a theft — a theft of God’s dominion, his desire and love for us. We reason, on our own terms, an apple a day is not so bad. In the end, we want to know what God knows while our brains reject the don’t.

Somewhere along the way, in our childhood double dares, when we learned to stand on our own two feet we forgot to rely on God. As life became the wondering and wandering path we left our dependent innocence behind us, grasping for his knowledge before he desired us to know.

Hard is the manner and description my own sin evokes as I write this column. I teeter on sententiousness as I wish to say, as we all do, “I’m O.K., you’re not O.K.”

The culture baits my thought. Deep in my soul, I know the truth.

I read somewhere you must love God more than the sin. The Psalmist said it first, “blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance. In Your name, they rejoice all day long…For our shield belongs to the Lord” (Psalm 89: 15, 16a, 18a).

When you love the Lord all day long, who has time for pink elephants?

“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at