Four men were scheduled to play their Friday round of golf. This particular day, there was a cancellation, and the guys called upon a man they met some time ago, who casually said ‘if you ever need a fourth call me,’ but while none knew him nor claimed him as friend, he was more than eager to fill in.
With the usual good cheer of 4 men playing a game on a sunny afternoon, the one with the loudest mouth was of course the guest, and he was handing out compliments like bracelets at Mardi Gras. ‘Another great shot.’ ‘Beauuuutiful putt.’ ‘Gorgeous drive.’ ‘Wow, this guy should be on tour.’ ‘I’ve never seen such an amazing sand shot!’ Yep, he was lighting up the three with his sugar-coated scheme, and a plan it was, a grand design of words and timing culminating after 16 holes.
Number 17 was a 378 yd par four. After their drives, two of the men had 8 and 9 iron shots, and reached the green easily, having 32 and 26 foot birdie putts. One missed the green left, and the last player buried an approach to three feet. ‘WOW, Tiger has some competition,’ was the latest, while the other two saluted a fine shot.
The green was flat with maybe a two-inch break at the most for the longest putt, but none of the three were able to drain their first putts. One bogey, and two pars. The last gentlemen to finish placed his ball, picked up his mark, tugged on his cap, got his final ‘read,’ and walked up for his birdie attempt.
After setting his feet, and looking at the hole one last time, he was just about to stroke his ball when out of nowhere the ‘stranger’ said:
‘Whoa, hold on here.’
The man with the putter lifted his bewildered head, stepped back and said, ‘Excuse me?’
‘You can’t putt that.’
‘What are you talking about?’ (After a few minutes of discussion, the atmosphere became palpably intense with four men arguing, on the green, on a beautiful day, with the stranger being the chief fire starter but now speaking softly to disarm his ‘friends.’
‘Your ball is sitting in the rough, here I’ll show you.’ With three visibly stunned men watching, he reaches down, grabs the ball, lifts it up, and replaces it in exactly the same spot, but now the ball is sitting in deep weeds, barely visible, 36 yards from the hole, and with a 12 foot elevation change. The next shot would be over a small mountain to a tight pin. Bizarre? Oh yea, as the man with the putter went back to his bag for a 60 degree wedge.
Sound far-fetched? Yep. Did this happen? Yes and no. It did not happen on the golf course, but it happens in other areas of life alllll the time.
Imagine, there was a three-foot level birdie putt; and within seconds of the strangers intrusion, there was a possibility of a bogey or worse. A simple putt turned into one of jeopardy, as the enemy needs but a moment to drive a wedge into something pure and good. That’s it, a moment.
Did he come to play golf? Did he come to socialize with his new friends? Or did he simply come to unravel his wiles with a pre-planned agenda of disruption?
How did this happen? How was he able to set up such a scenario? How did the ball end up in the weeds when it was sitting a paltry 3 feet from the cup? How did the stranger create a mountain in the eyes of the three?
Well you see, there were 16 holes played, where he had already made inroads; 4 hours was a long time to be under the influence of guile which was used as a trap whereby his bait would be taken. He had set the table for his own feast of deception, and had every intention that on the 17th hole, he would ply his craft. He had devices that the three were ignorant of.
He used the minutes to his advantage to gain a foothold, as he feigned himself a ‘friend,’ to further his nefarious purpose of doubt, unbelief, and deception. It worked. Ah but fortunately the man with the wedge when about to stroke his third shot FROM THE WEEDS, came to his senses, looked around, and heard his two friends say, ‘Well, are ya going to putt or what?’
Yep, it was a good day with our three friends on the links, and the putt was made to the sounds of ‘nice bird.’
There was no rough, there was no tuft of grass with a 12 foot elevation change, but the subtilty of a mere suggestion, in tandem with a ‘setting the table’ with flattery and doubt, gave a home to the strangers intention of trickery.
‘We are not ignorant of his devices,’ and the whole scene could have been avoided. But why was the man welcomed into the company of three men in the first place? Who was responsible for the invitation? How did the guest make a feast from a mere crumb?
Indeed the subtlety of the wedge, that little tool when used correctly, is powerful and good, but when in the wrong hands, creates mischief.
The good book says ‘lay hands suddenly on no man,’ and included in this careful plea is a call for patience, vigilance, and the willingness to say ‘begone.’ The ”fourth golfer’ was not vetted so to speak, and they were duped by their own goodness.
Not all people have good intentions, and while we like to give people the benefit of the doubt, there are occasions when prudence is a good idea. How one man can make three otherwise good men ‘see’ a mirage is remarkable but not surprising.
The word of God speaks perfectly of the journeyman experience of that false angel of light.
The crafty one presented the image of the ‘kingdoms of the world’ to the Lord Himself, and the only resource needed to dispel the flaming missile: ‘it is written, again.’
The trap was laid to perfection with a fishing line and the bait and snare of flattery. This man was a fisher of men, but his motivations were not pure. Where there is the pontification of man, there follows a potential of a Humpty Dumpty moment. The ‘great fall’ began in Eden, and man has happily been trodding the same footprints in the sand.
Flattery is the trap of traps, and the enemy uses that wedge for His purpose; it is never used to actually speak well of another with pure motives. It is not the genuine article. It always, always carries baggage, and the tongue is consistently forked: smooth but always biting.
‘A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.’ Yea too, words unfitly spoken are like poisonous fruit in the bins of infectious waste. Oh that we would recognize the professional wiles of all who bring deceit, trappery, flattery, and trickery. Begone.