Our hotel room overlooked two sand traps that were on the edge of a long, par-4 hole. Each morning I noticed that they were in pitiful shape. An abundance of footprints left in the stand led to a variety of other conditions. There was a hole left by one frustrated golfer who had tried to blast his way out of the difficulty. I saw a lone golf ball, perhaps left in disgust by a golfer who'd suddenly had his fill of woods, water hazards, sand traps and small swamps… or one that another player had simply been unable to locate during the course of his play. Sand rakes were left where they fell after others had attempted to cover the worst of their disturbances. But every morning, along came a course worker on a machine that smoothed out the sand and erased all the evidence of yesterday's frustrations. Around and around the sand trap he drove in tight circles, leaving the sand smooth and even behind him. Another laborer used the sand rakes to smooth the remaining few feet around the lip of the trap, an area that the machine couldn't reach, leaving the rakes lying neatly against the rim where they'd be out of the way when he was finished.
God's not on a golf course's payroll, nor does He work at an ice rink, and yet He daily grooms our spiritual lives in much the same way. When the events of each day are finished and before a new day dawns, He carefully erases the remnants of that day's mistakes so they won't cause us further problems tomorrow. He fills the holes we've dug for ourselves, and picks up the pieces of our lives that we've left scattered around us so we don't trip over them as we again take to the field of play at the start of a new day. His careful work keeps today's damage from tripping us up tomorrow.
Many golf tournaments on the pro golf circuit are by invitation only. Not just anybody is allowed to play. In others as well as in many competitions that take place on the ice, prospective participants have to pass a qualifying round of some sort before they can compete. They must demonstrate a certain level of performance before they can enjoy the benefits of the course or rink maintenance efforts.
Not so with God. He likewise works by invitation only, but no performance levels are required. He only asks us to exhibit a broken heart and a contrite spirit - and then He goes to work on lives marred by sin and selfish desires, making whatever repairs are necessary and smoothing the rough edges for a fresh start the next day. And He doesn't charge us for this service, because Jesus has already paid the bill in full.
Whether you're talking about sand traps, ice rinks or the daily grind of life, it's a wonderful thing to start each day with a clean slate.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."