Cherokee Devotional - Larry Rea

Apr 15 2014

LReaI’d like to talk to you today about numbers. We’re a people of numbers. That’s especially true at this time of the year when we’re into March Madness and everyone’s college basketball team wants to be No. 1, right. I’m an avid basketball fan, and the more I watch games on TV the more I am mystified by fans that will go nuts when the camera is on them. Their team might be 4-20 and they’ll still hold up one finger, signifying their team is No. 1. Well, most times it isn’t. It’s only No. 1 in that person’s heart. I like being No. 1 as much as anyone. That’s one – oops, there’s that number – reason that I continue to play golf. I said long, long, long ago that if I ever made a hole in one I’d quit the game. Well, I’m 70 and I am still searching for that first ace. So, I did some research and thanks to the National Hole in One Registry (Yes, there is such a web site), check these figures out:

  • There are 450 million rounds of golf are played each year.
  • A hole in one is scored once every 3,500 rounds.
  • Over 128,000 holes in one are scored each year.
  • 1-2 percent of golfers make a hole in one each year.
  • 67 million to one – odds of making two holes in one on one round.
  • 26 is most holes in one scored by one person.
  • 57 percent of aces are made by mid-handicappers 10-19.
  • „„60 percent of holes in one are made by golfers 50 and over.


Christopher Dirk Mitchell made his first hole in one on March 14 at the golf course at Fort Benning, Ga. Mitchell said it took him 46 years, 364 days and 12 hours to make his first ace. For you long hitters, the longest straight shot hole in one in golf history was hit by Robert Mitera on Oct. 7, 1965 at Miracle Hills (an appropriate name) Golf Club in Omaha. He used a driver to ace the 444-yard No. 10. He said he couldn’t see the flag from where he teed off. He only realized he’d aced the hole when he arrived at the green and another golfer told him his ball was in the hole.

On a personal note, I play weekly in the Bartlett Senior Golf League. We play every Tuesday at an area course. In 2014, we’re scheduled to play 32 times. I’ll probably play in 25 of those, which relates to 445 holes of golf. Last year I carried a 19 handicap, which means hit the ball 2,250 times. Carry that over to 40-plus year of playing golf 25 times a year that’s 1,000 rounds of golf or 18,000 holes or 90,000 strokes and not ONE hole in ONE. Oh, I’ve witnessed three holes in one. Two for real and one that didn’t count – the absolute worst golfer I ever played with shanked his tee shot so far off that it landed on another green and rolled into the hole. By now, you get the jest of how much all of our lives evolve into a numbers game, especially for those of us who love the game of golf.

But, let’s move on to quote some of the world’s most famous people related to numbers:

George Washington - "Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all."
Hall of fame pitcher Tom Seaver - "In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency, not to worry about the numbers. If you dwell on statistics you get shortsighted. If you strive for consistency, the numbers will be there in the end."
French poet and novelist Victor Hugo - "There is no such thing as a little country. The greatness of a people is no more determined by their numbers than the greatness of a man is by his height."
Branch Rickey - “Baseball people, and that includes myself, are slow to change and accept new ideas. I remember that it took years to persuade them to put numbers on uniforms.” The Yankees were the first baseball team to use numbers in 1929.

In other words, numbers are part of our lives. You’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, right? How about a stich in time saves nine? Or, let’s get back to back square one? Or, oh, he’s behind the eight ball? Wow, we even say we’re on Cloud Nine or call someone a “Goody two-shoes.” In hockey, there’s the hat trick. You ever given someone the High Five? Or, maybe you’ve gone off half-cocked. I remember someone telling me that life begins at 40. I think that person must have been on Cloud Nine. Well, that’s about the whole nine yards. Or, is it? We all want to get our two cents worth, right? And, for sure, we know that two heads are better than one. Zero tolerance is something we hear about a lot today.

I say all this because it’s interesting that on average, ONE in every FIVE scriptural verses contains a number. That’s right – one in five. If you had to name your favorite book in the Old Testament, I’m not sure Numbers would be that book. But I love the fourth book in the Old Testament. Numbers in the book of divine discipline, showing the painful consequences of wrong choices by God’s chosen people Moses is credited as the author of this 36-chapter book which was probably written in 1450-1410 BC to the people of Israel to document their journey to the Promised Land. The message of the Book of Numbers is universal and timeless. It reminds believers of the spiritual warfare in which they are engaged, for Numbers is the book of the service and walk of God’s people. The Book of Numbers essentially bridges the gap between the Israelites receiving the Law (Exodus and Leviticus) and preparing them to enter the Promised Land (Deuteronomy and Joshua) But Numbers also reminds all future readers of the Bible that God is with us as we journey toward heaven.

OK, so I’ve got to throw in a little outdoors talk. Have you ever spent the night in a wilderness? If so, you will have little trouble identifying with the complaints of the Israelites as they begin their march from Mount Sinai to the Promise Land. The wilderness is a hostile place. By day the sun beats down mercilessly, and the temperature soars. (God knew this and provided a traveling umbrella – the cloud). Food is scarce and water is virtually nonexistent in a wilderness – unless, of course, you are eating manna that falls with the dew and drinking water from rocks.

Do you see God’s hand of provision in the life of His nation? More importantly, do you see God’s hand of provision in your life? Repeatedly, the Israelites expressed grumbling instead of gratitude. Don’t we do the same thing today? Today’s technology is amazing, but sometimes we need to slow down and smell the roses. Make that, a dozen red roses. Why not enjoy the blessing we missed by spending more time praising God for his daily provision. The reason so many people know the solution is they created the problem.

Numbers 14:21-23: Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.

In Luke 12:7: “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Let’s admit it – all of us want to be No. 1 no matter what we do.

This could be the day that I make my first hole in one. If so, I’ll give credit to the Lord and say a special thank you to Elsie McLean. You know Elsie, don’t you? She holds the record for the oldest person to make a hole in one. At the age of 102, Elsie aced the par 3, 100-yard fourth hole at Bidwell Park in Chico, Calif., in March 2007. The ace earned her a guest spot on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I’d be happy with a line on The Commercial Appeal’s scoreboard page and a plaque on the wall in my office alongside a mount of the biggest buck I’ve ever killed and a picture of Bill Dance with my granddaughter holding up a big catfish.

God expects – no, He demands – our best. We should all make God No. 1 in our Christian walk. After all, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. God is good all the time. And remember as we read in Numbers – obedience is the path to blessing in any generation. So, who’s No. 1 in your heart? Or, for that matter, what’s No. 1 in your heart?