// Craig W. Hagin
THE 2016 Masters Tournament held at the Augusta National Golf Club will long be talked about. Jordan Spieth—one of the world's best golfers who many thought would win a second Masters championship—choked on the 12th hole, scoring a quadruple bogey. For those who don't follow golf, that's bad. Really bad.
Being a top player in his game, Jordan probably could have come back and won. But after he choked, he just fell apart.
Life can be this way. Sometimes it seems as if one mistake changes everything. Some people recover—others don't.
I've noticed that when it gets close to summertime, people start messing up. I believe that's because when the weather gets warmer, they start missing church and then quit coming altogether.
You don't have to go to church to go to Heaven, but church is a good place to get fed spiritually. Good spiritual food is what keeps you at the top of your game in life. Church isn't the only place to get fed spiritually. But people aren't always good about reading their Bible or spending time with the Lord every day.
The Bible tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:25). I'm sure you can remember times when you struggled with something or you didn't know what to do in a situation. And then while you were sitting in a church service, the Holy Spirit spoke through your pastor and he said exactly what you needed to hear to help you. When you don't go to church, you don't get this much-needed help.
Don't Be Fooled
Who you hang around with influences your habits—good or bad. Going to church keeps you connected with your Christian friends. Not going makes it easy to hang around friends who negatively influence you.
First Corinthians 15:33 (NCV) says, "Do not be fooled: 'Bad friends will ruin good habits.' " We often think we're strong enough to be around certain people. But instead of us impacting their lives for the better, they pull us down.
For example, a person who gets off of drugs may want to witness to friends who are still using drugs. The person thinks that just because he hasn't used anything in a year, he's strong enough to go back and hang around with people who are still in that lifestyle.
I know a man who had a real drug problem when he was growing up. His life got turned around, and he eventually became a pastor. Anytime people call his church seeking help with drug addiction, he always has a staff member talk to them. He does this because heroin used to call his name. Even though he is spiritually strong today and could counsel the person without any problems, he never wants to put himself in a compromising situation.
How many times have we willingly gone into places where temptation calls us by our first name? Then when we fall, we wonder how we messed up.
Choking doesn't have to be about drug addiction. It can be about anything. It can happen over experiencing depression, battling illness, or facing financial difficulty.
Sometimes the circumstances of life land you in a sand trap and you don't see any way out. Nothing seems to work for you. You're under so much pressure that you don't know what to do, and it's hard to hear from God.
These are the times when we need our friends who are strong in the Lord. Unfortunately, I've seen people quit talking to their Christian friends during rough patches in their lives. But doing that only pulls them away from the very people who can help them.
When we're weak, we need friends who are strong. And we need to reach out to them—no matter how embarrassed we may feel.
Run to God
The most important part of choking is getting back on track as quickly as possible. We have to get back to higher ground, and often we need to make some changes.
Sometimes we're flying through life and we need to slow down. After Jordan Spieth's first bad shot, I think he rushed into his next shot. Then he made one bad shot after another.
When we keep making mistakes in our personal lives, we need to stop and evaluate our situation. We should set aside some time to think before taking our next step.
Be a Good Friend
On the flip side, when we see friends choke, we can't just let them fall away from the Lord. We need to do something. At the very least, we can pray for them and not condemn them.
We've all fallen down. We've all made mistakes. When we see people we know in bad situations, the best thing to do is pick them up and help them move forward.
Our Heavenly Father is a God of second chances. No matter how badly we've messed up, He's always ready to forgive. Go to khm.com/second and find out how to get up after making a mistake.