Robert “King” Hackney exuded confidence without evidence. In conversation, he could bluff most people with his golf prowess and knowledge, though in execution — skill and nuance were absent. King was not a poor golfer, but neither was he accomplished. There always seemed to be a “herk” in his jerk and excuses to go along with his less than usual rhythmic swat at the ball.

King had read all the great golf instruction books — Ben Hogan’s “Five Fundamentals,” Jack Nicklaus’ “Golf My Way,” Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book” — and each rolled through his mind and out of his mouth as a golf ball on a slick green. King’s problem was he possessed knowledge and lacked understanding.

From time to time, if enough frustration settled in him, he would lower himself to take a lesson from the pro, but he always chose a time when no one would see him. King couldn’t risk his reputation.

The lesson went something like this —

Pro: King, let me see a few swings.

King: Before I do, let me tell you what I think I’m doing wrong. (diagnosis ensues)

Pro: OK. Go ahead and let me see a few swings anyway.

King: SWOOSH! WHACK! Wait a minute. That wasn’t my best. I think I know what I did. Here, watch this one. SWOOSH! WHACK! Do you see what I mean?

Pro: King, let me tell you what I see. (explanation follows)

King: OK. Watch this. SWOOSH! WHACK! You know, I think my tempo’s off.

Pro (to himself): If he’s not going to listen, why did he ask me to give him a lesson?

And isn’t this the silent and not-so-silent conversation we have with God daily? We miss listening because we think we know.

Paul David Tripp writes, “You may never exegete an entire book of the Bible, but God does call you to be a diligent student of his Word. But here’s the danger: because of remaining sin and self-righteousness, our study of Scripture could leave us with big theological brains and untouched and diseased hearts.”

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2, NKJV).

King knew the right words, even understood them. Because he thought he knew more than the teacher, he missed the essential purpose of his knowledge, failing to grasp the body doesn’t always follow preconceived concepts. King never understood golf’s demand that playing the game requires adherence to force and direction, a genuine sense of the game’s purpose, a heart for execution.

When I gave myself to God, force and direction followed, though not of my making. God moved me toward a destination absent a sense of where I was going. Isn’t this the essence of faith, to listen, to follow, to seek God’s teaching first, to joyfully witness God’s revelation and respond in service?

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22, NKJV).

And isn’t it a deception when we think we know?

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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