You don’t have to be a golfer to appreciate what’s known among golfers as a “mulligan.” What is it? Quite simply, a mulligan is a do-over, an opportunity to try again after hitting a bad shot.
Mulligans aren’t in the official rule book of golf. It’s more like an informal courtesy among recreational golfers. Say you hit a ball off the tee and it ricochets off a tree trunk into the pond, never to be seen again. That’s when you might hear a compassionate golfing buddy say,
“Take a mulligan.”
Golf historians aren’t sure how the idea originated. The most likely story is that it started with some guy by the last name of “Mulligan.” It doesn’t really matter though. The truth is that if it weren’t for the mulligan, most people would quit playing golf after their first time trying because hitting that little white ball is so hard. Second chances are a must.
I thought of the mulligan recently when I read Exodus 34:1,
The Lord said to Moses, ‘Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.’
It’s as if God is saying to Moses and the congregation, “Let’s try this again, take a mulligan.” The golden calf incident was tragic and when Moses broke the first set of tablets in a rage, it may have seemed like that was it, one and done, relationship over. But not so with God. He gives mulligans.
In the words of Warren Wiersbe, “The fact that God renewed the covenant is evidence that He forgave the people and gave them a new beginning.”
Look and you will see the mercy of a mulligan throughout the Bible. Time after time, God gave people who hit bad shots another opportunity. David comes to mind. Not to mention Peter, or John Mark. These failed miserably but God loved them and faithfully led them through a process of repentance and restoration. Their examples teach us that because God is merciful, mulligans are allowed.
As John says,
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 1 John 2:1 (NLT)
Notice there is a comma after the word sin – not a period. Because of Jesus, we get the opportunity to tee it up again today, no matter how badly we did yesterday.
Thank God for mulligans.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.