As my middle son Mark and I were playing tennis at the local tennis courts, I was reminded once again that tennis is a lot harder that it looks on TV! The proverb ‘It is better to give than receive’ applies well to my tennis game. Perhaps the reason why I do better at badminton than tennis is that tennis requires a remarkable speed to ‘receive’ incoming rapid-fire shots. On our ‘Island Hall Parksville’ honeymoon thirty-three years ago, my wife and I discovered that we love each other deeply, but tennis was not our secret to marital intimacy.
As I was recently out visiting, drinking tea and chatting, the famous tennis player Serena Williams appeared on the TV screen. Serena is a phenomenal tennis player who makes it looks so easy. There is an art and rhythm to her game that is gripping.
Watching Serena on TV reminded me of a promising young North Shore tennis player Rishan Kuruppa. A while ago, the North Shore News did a write-up on Rishan, as he trained at the North Shore Winter Club under the leadership of retired pro Grant Connell. Rishan has a deep passion for tennis that touches everything in his life. He eats, sleeps, and breathes tennis. I remember Rishan telling me how he daily ran up the Grouse Grind as part of his tennis workout. It left me feeling rather envious and relieved at the same time.
One of my favourite places to work out has been the Parkgate Gym. I’ve often run into Rishan there lifting weights and running backwards on the treadmill. One day we were both on parallel treadmills. I was on a fast walk at ‘4.2’ and Rishan was running at ‘7.5’. Having just received a tennis scholarship for the University of Tennessee, Rishan was determined to be fully up-to-speed before he left Deep Cove.
Rishan had often competed in the United States and began telling me, while on the treadmill, about some lively churches that he had visited in his tennis travels. I asked Rishan if he knew Jesus on a personal basis. Rishan said ‘no’ and genuinely asked me if I did. I shared my story of how I met Jesus on a personal basis while in Grade 12. Still fast-walking at ‘4.2’, I asked Rishan if he would like to ask Jesus into his life. Rishan, still running at ‘7.5’, promptly agreed, and so I led Rishan in a ‘treadmill’ prayer, to ask Jesus to be his Lord and Saviour. After prayer, Rishan said to me: ‘That’s great. I can feel Jesus’ peace.’
I believe that Rishan Kuruppa is a better tennis player today because of the inner peace that he received that day on the treadmill. Running, walking, or sitting, I believe that such inner peace is available to all those reading this article. Prayer anyone?
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
A very intense business man went to the local doctor suffering from stress. His GP said to him: “I have a simple solution for stress. If you don’t golf, start. If you do golf, stop.”
The late Bishop Chuck Murphy came from Pawley Island, South Carolina, an area which has dozens of world-class golf courses. So naturally he loved to tell golf stories. While in Vancouver BC, he gave us one of his favorites: “Moses, Jesus, and an old man are golfing. Moses steps up to the tee and hits the ball. It goes sailing over the fairway and lands in the water trap . Moses parts the water and chips the ball onto the green.
Jesus steps to the tee and hits the ball. It goes sailing over the fairway and lands in the water trap. Jesus walks on the water and chips the ball onto the green.
The old man steps up to the tee and hits the ball. It goes sailing over the fairway and heads for the water trap, a fish jumps up and grabs the ball in its mouth. As the fish is falling back down into the water, an eagle swoops down and grabs the fish in its claws. The eagle flies off over the green, where a lightning bolt shoots from the sky and barely misses it. Startled, the eagle drops the fish When the fish hits the ground, the ball pops out of its mouth and rolls into the hole for a hole-in-one.
Jesus then turns to the old man and says “Good shot, Dad!”
With three active sons in their twenties, I have had the pleasure of giving them golfing tips. I have many happy memories of caddying for my father at the UBC Golf Course. As a teenager, I had a membership at Langara Golf course and used to golf religiously three times a week. I even golfed in the snow which was quite a feat. Because my parents had paid for my membership, I remember feeling guilty if I wasn’t golfing enough!
My eldest son James, who has worked for sixteen years at Safeway, wanted to be ready for a Safeway Golf tournament. After teaching my son everything I knew about golfing, I decided that it was time to go to the Parkgate Library and listen to the pros. Fortunately the library had dozens of golf books and videos. There is even a ‘Golf Rules & Etiquette for DUMMIES’ book! Every book and video had literally hundreds of helpful tips about one’s grip, a proper backswing, a proper stance, getting out of bunkers, and secrets of putting. From Jack Nicklaus to Arnold Palmer, all of them seemed eager to turn my sons and I into the next golfing superstar. You may be happy to know that after looking at many videos and books, I have decided not to quit my day-job. As professional golfers are away on tournaments for well over half the year, my wife would miss me too much. And then there is that little problem of getting it on the green.
One of the most fascinating golf books that I found at the library was The Way of An Eagle by Robert Darden and PJ Richardson. It features the stories of more than forty top golfers who shared the secrets of their success on and off the golf course. Common to all the golfers was a realization that golfing itself was not enough, that there was more to life, and that life could be discovered through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. All of these golfers had found a greater inner peace and serenity that carried them through the ups and downs of intense tournament life.
As a teenage golfer, no matter how well I did, it didn’t feel good enough. I struggled with perfectionism and performance-orientation. But now like the pro golfers in the Way of the Eagle book, I have found that my identity doesn’t come from how well I do. It comes from God himself who loves me no matter how well or poorly I play. God has given me an inner peace through Jesus Christ that nothing can steal away from me. As I help my sons learn how to golf, I pray that they may carry this message of inner peace with them wherever they go.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-previously published in the North Shore News/Deep Cove Crier
Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.
Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…
A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.
Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?
Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.
If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or kindle.
-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.