I couldn’t believe it when I heard the story, and he couldn’t believe he did it when it happened.
A friend of mine, who has twice been the city champion of the state capital where he lives was on his way home from a vacation in Florida. He had arranged to stop at the Bay Hill Country Club to have lunch with a good friend. Bay Hill is Arnold Palmer’s home course, and where this week he is hosting a prestigious PGA tournament. After they had lunch with his friend and was getting ready to leave, his friend asked if he’d ever met Arnold Palmer one of the great legends of golf and by all accounts one of the most gracious men in the game.
They finished lunch and as he was about to leave and get back on the road his friend asked him if he’d ever met Arnold Palmer.” He hadn’t so his friend said, “Let’s go see if he’s in his office.”
He was. Ever cordial with the multitudes of people that want to greet him, Arnold got up from his desk and they had a brief conversation. Eventually Arnold had to leave to make his tee time with some others who had arranged to play golf that afternoon. “We’ve only got three of us. Would you like to be our fourth?” Without thinking and pressed by the fact that he was already getting on the road later than he planned, he declined.
It was only later as he was back on the road that he realized what he had done. He had just turned down a chance to play golf and spend a few hours with Arnold Palmer! What golfer in his right mind would turn down the chance to play a round of golf with the King of Golf on his own golf course? He has kicked himself ever since for declining such a great opportunity.
Have you ever missed an incredible opportunity because you were thinking so far down your schedule, you missed what was right in front of you? I have. And not with the King of Golf, but with the King of Kings.
Some of my best moments of my life have come at the most inopportune times. I’ve no doubt missed many more because I was so preoccupied with something ahead of me, I couldn’t clearly see what was being offered right in front of me. Some I know about, others I’m sure I don’t. But I am sure of this. I can’t schedule the best moments in life. They appear unbiden popping up in the moment and if you’re not free to violate your schedule you may, too, be missing some marvelous moments only to regret later that you didn’t have the presence of mind to see what was really going on in that moment.
There are so many great moments in the Gospels, because Jesus was free to embrace the moment and not spend all his time creating or chasing plans. I want to live like that, so that the next time Jesus invites me to go along with him while he touches someone with his life, I’ll be free to take a detour and go with him. A life lived without regret is a joyful life indeed.
These days I am finding more and more of those opportunities and greater freedom to recognize and embrace them. I don’t think there are just more opportunities around my life these days, I just think I’m less driven by my own plans so I see them more easily at the time they appear. I love that.
I just want to be free to go play with the King, whenever he invites me.