Years ago, Palmer was invited to play a series of exhibition matches in Saudi Arabia. The king was so impressed with the golfer that he offered him a gift.
Not realizing that gift-giving is central to Saudi hospitality, Palmer politely declined. The king was extremely displeased, so Palmer reconsidered: "Well, how about a golf club? A golf club would be a wonderful memento of my visit here." The king was delighted.
The following day, a messenger delivered to Palmer's hotel the title to a golf club with 36 holes, trees, lakes, and buildings. According to Manning, the moral of the story is clear: "In the presence of the king, don't ask for small gifts."
Now, I have never been a proponent of the so-called prosperity gospel. I do not necessarily believe that God wants to bless every single believer beyond measure with health and wealth. If that be the case, then why did the Apostle Paul suffer with a thorn in his flesh – one, I might add, that he asked God to remove three different times only to have God say no!
More to the point, Jesus himself did plenty of suffering – to the point that he even sweat great drops of blood it the process. Moreover, not only did Paul nor His Master, Jesus, have earthly health, neither did they enjoy earthly wealth. Paul wrote at least thirteen of the most beloved books in history and never got a dime of royalties. Even worse, Jesus never even had a pillow on which to lay His head.
But that same Jesus proclaimed in the Gospel of John (10:10) that He came to give “life and that to the full”. In the original Koine (or common) Greek language in which the New Testament was first written, the word translated full is “perissios”, meaning “all around, fully encompassing, complete”. And I am satisfied that, in spite of his sufferings, the Apostle Paul knew exactly what Jesus meant.
For in spite his deprivations and sufferings, Paul lived a full and complete life. He tells us so in his New Testament Letter to the Philippians (4:11-13), when he says: for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Little wonder than that Paul speaks of the “boundless riches of Christ” in his New Testament letter to the Ephesians (3:8).
So, take heart, no matter what you are facing. According to His own Word (Psalm 50:10), our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills! His resources, therefore, are limitless. And even though He may not choose to delve into these earthly resources and lay upon you a genuine golf course, He will most assuredly provide spiritual riches for you that easily transcend anything this world has to offer.
Both Paul and his Lord and Savior Jesus proved that by the life they lived. And what is more, stored up for all who will likewise live such a life of devotion to God are future blessings beyond measure.
I leave you with these words from Paul in his second New Testament Letter to his associate, Timothy (4:7,8): “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” And that, my friends, is true richness!
This same crown of righteousness, as a lasting component of “life and that to the full”, is being offered to any and every person this very day. I trust you will take it while the offer stands.
SOURCE: The historical authenticity of this story has been questioned. It is now claimed that it is an urban legend which may have been based on a fictional work written by Lowell Thomas in 1949 for Reader's Digest magazine. I have chosen to cite Brennan Manning, as he has included it in his book titled, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell, 1986), pp 191-192. One will note that this book came out before the internet at a time when it was virtually impossible for the average writer to authenticate the definitive historicity of every story he or she had had encountered and collected up for purposes of illustration.