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While I was on vacation with Dad in Maine, a friend of his invited us to play golf at his exclusive country club that was built on the side of a mountain. At the first tee, I felt I was standing on the roof of a twenty-story building. I looked down the valley and saw lots of trees, ledges, and a riverbed. In the distance was a small patch of green with a flag on it. I said, “You got to be kidding.” There were no sand traps, only ledges, and cliffs. At the end of the eighteen holes, my father’s friend asked me about my score. I told him, “Horrible, a dozen golf balls…I was out of bounds eleven times…” Then he changed the question. He asked me if I had a good time. I replied, “Fabulous!” The scenery was spectacular. Every turn of the cart I took a picture. We laughed every time we teed up a ball because it was so difficult. It was a great day.

 I sometimes think that we like to measure our successes by keeping score. How many tomatoes are in the garden this year; how big is the house, and how much money do we have in the bank? But asking “How did I do?” may not be the right question. Maybe we should be asking ourselves if we are enjoying our lives. If we were to ask the deaf and mute man in the Gospel how he scored in life, we may get a dismal report. He probably didn’t have many job opportunities. He most likely did not have a good education or meaningful and high-paying skills. Even the smallest of tasks would have required heroic effort for anyone with his handicap. If, however, were to ask you him, “How did you enjoy your life?” he would probably tell the story which we heard in the Gospel.

 A crowd of people brought the deaf-mute to Jesus. It was not just his mother or a kind neighbor. We are talking about the whole village: his barber, the chef at his favorite restaurant, the mailman. All these people liked this guy. He would never forget the day Jesus cured him. After he left Jesus, he went back, stood in front of the crowd, cleared his voice, and announced, “Hey guys, I can hear you now.” For the first time in his life, he heard what a crowd sounds like when they give a standing ovation. They gave him one because he did something no mute person was able to do: speak. He blew the roof off the place when he “spoke plainly.” After the last tear of joy was wiped away and after the last congratulatory pat on the back was given, he went home, opened the door and his wife gave him a hug. For the first time in his life he heard the words, “I love you.” Then he went to his little daughter to braid her hair, and for the first time in his life, he heard giggles. He would walk out the door and people would point to him, saying “He is the reason why I believe.” “He is the reason I have hope.” “He is the reason why I keep trying in difficult times.” “He is the one that inspires me.” Two thousand years later, he is still inspiring.

 Dad could have taken me to an easy golf course. That would have made sense because I could have shaken off the rust after not playing for three years. He could have brought me to a golf course that was flat, with no trees, and no “out of bounds.” I might have obtained a good score if he had. But he didn’t. He took me to the most difficult and challenging golf course which I had ever had the privilege of playing. On the way home Dad said, “Everyone who ever picked up a golf club, anyone who ever teed up a ball, anyone who has ever watched golf on TV should at least one time in their lives play this course just to experience what we did.”

If the deaf man in the Gospel could give us some words of wisdom, he would leave us with this message: “If God wanted me to have great scores in life and be successful, then He would have put me on an easy course, but He didn’t. He put me on a very difficult and challenging road in life. Why? So that I would experience Christ in my life. A difficult path is your opportunity to experience God in your life.”

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