Frank told me he had served a long and tedious hitch in the military and was ecstatic to be home to reconnect with old friends and try to remember what normal felt like. He could hardly wait for that first game of golf with his best pal since childhood.
Gus promised to pick up Frank at 7 A.M. for the drive to the course in time for an 8:30 tee-off. The years of strict adherence to punctuality prompted Frank to be waiting on his front porch, golf bag in hand. By 7:10 he called to check on Gus. The phone rang and rang. Just as he was about to hang up, a very tired sounding Gus answered. Frank could barely hide his disappointment.
“Hey! Where are you? You were supposed to be here ten minutes ago.”
“Oh man, I’m sorry. I overslept. Give me a minute and I’ll be on my way.”
Frank hoped the guys who would be waiting to play with them were blessed with patience. Gus lived about 10 minutes away and then it would take another 30 minutes to get to the course.
A little while later, Frank was still standing in the front yard practicing his swing...no Gus in sight. He hated to be so persistent but this was something he had looked forward to for years; the first golf game back home as a civilian and with his long time buddies from school.
He tried again. Once more the phone rang and rang until a voice answered, seemingly from the depths of slumber. Frank tried not to show his agitation, but it was getting difficult.
“Gus! What are you doing? We’re going to be late.”
His old friend sounded
embarrassed. “I’m sorry I went back to sleep. I’ll be right there.”
“Well…you have to hurry.”
“I know. I KNOW!”
The now familiar scenario played out two more times, each ending with Gus promising he was on his way. Each time he went back for forty more winks.
Disgusted and stressed, Frank called one last time. Gus seemed taken aback at his friend’s growing agitation. He promised, once again, that he was on his way. Then he said something unexpected. “Who is this?”
Frank said he felt like forgetting the whole thing and going back to bed. He sat on the doorstep to fume. That’s when he heard the sound of a car roaring down the road. It turned sharply into his driveway and barely missed a fifty year old tree. It was Gus.
Frank told me, since friends do not let friends drive drunk, he forced his extremely un-sober friend over to the passenger side, and then got behind the wheel. They arrived at the course just in time. Truth being stranger than fiction, he said that Gus--only a fair golfer at best--played like he had just won the PGA tournament.
“He couldn’t miss. It was amazing. We were all stunned at his nearly perfect score. We had never seen anything like it.”
Frank remembers the exact time things changed. He said between the 10th green and 11th tee, Gus sobered up.
“From that point on he couldn’t have hit the ball with a tennis racket. It was pitiful. We were bent double laughing, and we stopped counting when he got to over 100 strokes.”
A wise and honorable man, Frank is a Christian writer, teacher, and counselor who has devoted his life to his family. He concedes the decades-old story may be humorous, but it has a serious lesson.
“This is a good example of how sin can sneak in and change us. When we first embrace transgression, it may be uproariously comical and exciting, and saturated with enough silly things to keep us amused and distracted. The truth can become shrouded and vague.”
Even though Gus was still so inebriated from the night before that he couldn’t get there on time, he finally pulled it together enough to keep the car between the ditches and arrive for the golf date. He played like a highly paid professional while still under alcohol’s influence, but as he sobered up his ability to even hit the ball grew exponentially worse.
Frank’s sermon illustration he uses from his youth is this: Eventually, our actions have consequences and we do pay the price. A man who is not inclined to be sober and wise needs to know, before he dies, that those consequences just may be not so funny.”
Amen, Frank. Amen.
*true (names changed)
Update: Gus gave his life to the Lord. He has a loving wife and grown children. Frank doesn’t know if over the years his old friend’s golfing ability improved or not. I’m sure it doesn’t matter.
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