There’s a classic joke about Moses, Jesus, and another guy playing golf. Moses hits his ball toward the water, but the water parts. Jesus hits his ball toward the water, but it hovers right on top. The other guy whacks his ball clear out of bounds, but before it comes to rest it bounces off the windshield of a car, falls into a frog’s mouth, who is picked up by an eagle, who drops the frog and ball just feet from the hole. In the joke Moses tells Jesus he hates playing with his dad.
That certainly is a funny joke, until you play with a guy who has that kind of luck. I call that guy Scott, and we have golfed together every Thursday night all year. Now Scott hardly needs that kind of luck since he hits the ball right down the middle most of the time, but on the rare occasions when he does hit the ball into the trees his ball always ends up back on the fairway. It can bounce off a tree, hit the cart path, or bounce off another foursomes cart. The only thing I haven’t seen is his ball dropped off by an eagle (although, when that happens I will not be surprised). Now, the good news for me is Scott is my partner. But every time I hear our opponents grumble, Scott gives them the same line: “Member bounce, I guess.”
I don’t get the member bounces. I get the hit-the-ball-so-hard-into-the-tree-buried-itself bounces… the into-the-water bounces… the my-ball-was-picked-up-by-a-frog-but-he-hopped-away-with-it bounces. So when Scott is quietly dismissing his luck with a simply phrase, I am typically found in the middle of my follow through—you know, that seamless motion where my hand falls into my pocket and finds another ball. Scott says, “Member bounce.” I say, “Mulligan.”
There are some people who go through life, and it seem like they are getting member bounces. Like cats they always land on their feet. It’s as if nothing ever goes wrong for them. For the rest of us, there are mulligans.
The psalmist writes, “God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out.” (Psalm 30:2-3, The Message)
Job’s young mentor once reminded him, “God gives us each chance after chance.” (Job 33:29)
After Jonah fled from God and his mission we are told, “The word of God came to Jonah a second time.” (Jonah 3:1)
And when the whole world was dead in sin—not just for the first time, and neither for the second, but for the thousandth time—at that time God sent his only Son, Jesus who died on the cross for our sake, blessing us not with a stroke of good luck, but with the ultimate second chance.
So whether you find yourself deep in the woods of a golf course or in the wilderness of life, remember that God’s greatest trick wasn’t teaching an eagle to eat a frog, it was tricking the devil to crucify sin. God’s greatest gift, is another chance. Live in that grace. Live that mulligan.