King Hackney couldn’t get over himself.

The fragrance of his ego overpowered his ability to relinquish the well-developed image to which he clung; an image honed to refinement. Make no mistake, pay King a compliment and the words would travel through his inner ear to a crevice in his prefrontal cortex. There, he sat in an overstuffed chair, smoking his Cuban, sipping a glass of Castle and Key bourbon — neat with a splash of simple syrup — all the while expressing a wry look of satisfaction thinking he knew a secret you did not.

King reveled as he held court in golf club locker rooms, the domain where he consummated all the former manipulations by which he arrived there.

His identity, so tied to his little kingdom, had become swaddled by his self-rationalization. Golf and male bonding were but adornments for the world he constructed. In his mind, the little kingdom completed him. In that room, King attained what outside it the world would not bestow him — power. He made the choices that moved him away from God, the choice every man makes, to be a king in his kingdom. How appropriate his nickname became.

And aren’t we all like this man? Don’t we all possess a nickname telling a truth? Don’t we all make choices taking us away from God? And once we arrive at our intended choice, the place we believe fulfills us, we hold fast. After all, hard work got us there.

All King possessed were his eyes and his ears and the cues passing through those orifices, affirming the world he formed in his image. Seeing his true self became an impossible task. King was too busy to listen but to his own words. Shrewd he was while wisdom escaped him.

How easy it is to pray and say, “I’m glad I am not like this man.”

But I am just like this man.

I have attached myself to this world in its many forms. I have heard the enemy’s close rationale and more than considered it. I have staked my claim on it. I believed in its equal opportunity provision, believed I had a right to it. Such is pride as a parent to sin, in whatever form.

Paraphrasing Rosaria Butterfield, sin, as we practice it, is a consequential, identity rooted, ethical outworking of original sin. Sin, as she states it, is a movement away from God’s protection and blessing.

King moved away, did what the world required and forgot God. He was a citizen within his boundary. It is much like the child who wishes to exert its independence, who chooses not to take its parent’s hand when danger is near and safety’s required. And when this occurs, as it always does, what do we say about the child and what of the parent? When we walk within man’s nature, where, then, is God? Who is our god?

In God’s hand, we walk in step with Him.

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

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for some 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Please visit his blog at deckcheatham.com. Email him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.

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