If you or I were to play golf at the Calcutta Country Club and Golf Course in Calcutta, India we might need to read ground rule number ten a second time just to make sure we read it right the first time. Simply stated, it reads: “Play the ball where the monkey drops it.” The explanation for this strange sounding rule lies in the fact that this posh golf course is surrounded by groves of thick and lush magnolia trees that are also home to a large monkey population who for some inexplicable reason have developed a fascination with golf balls bouncing down the fairway. Given the opportunity, they will run on to the fairway and try to nab the golf ball and make off with their booty back to the trees. Some get away with their crime, but most drop the ball before reaching the trees or being caught by angry caddies madly waving a golf club at them. And that is the rub! The ball has been moved from its original spot and therefore the higher ups in the club decided in all their wisdom that the golfer must play the ball where the monkey drops it.
Life, like playing golf at the Calcutta Country Club, has a way of messing with our game plan. We tee life up just the way we like it and make a good swing for success, and then things change; sickness, opposition, financial reversal, relational breakdown, betrayal, or our own poor choices, and we find ourselves with a bad lie playing out of the rough. In moments like that we must master the skill of playing the ball where life drops it! It has been well said that life is 10% what we make it but 90% how we take it. We cannot control what happens around us, but we can control what happens within us in response to what happens around us. We can and we must grasp what Thomas Watson, the puritan, calls the “art of divine contentment.” For Watson, contentment was the ability to adapt to changing circumstances by means of the enabling grace of God in Christ.
In Philippians four, Paul speaks as a man who was ready for anything (Phi. 4:10-13)! In the ebb and flow of life Paul had known much and little, gain and loss; yet he tells the Philippians that he has discovered a secret that has allowed him to live victoriously in every situation. His secret is facing every situation, good or bad, through Christ who repeatedly pours his strength into Paul (Phil. 4:13). The Christ who is Lord over every situation was also within Paul through the indwelling Spirit, making Paul adequate for whatever was going on around him. In fact, the word “content” carries the idea of sufficiency. In Paul’s case, this was a Christ-centered sufficiency (John 1:16; 2 Cor. 3:5; 9:8). Paul’s contentment was a grace-laced capacity to adjust to and advance within every circumstance. Contentment was actually containment, a sense of adequacy rooted in the presence of Christ in the inner man. The presence of Christ on the inside fortified the apostle against the press of life on the outside. Paul was ready for anything because the power of Christ within was greater than anything he would face without. Paul was a man in Christ and because of the sufficiency of Christ, a man for all seasons.
Listen! Under the circumstances is no place for a Christian to live when alive in Christ!