SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA A Bible Study Guide By Craig Detweiler, PhD Pepperdine University THE TARGET When we’ve made a mistake, it is tempting to focus on our failure. Luke Chisholm has found his significance on the golf course. In his eyes, a good round makes him a good person, worthy of respect. His identify is tied to a scorecard. So what happens when his golf game unravels? We may obsess over public embarrassments or the disappointments we’ve kept to ourselves. A fixation on mistakes can paralyze us. How will Luke Chisholm respond to his highly visible failure? At an evening dance in Utopia, Luke dwells upon his shortcomings until Johnny Crawford interrupts. WATCH THE SCENE: At the Dance Johnny emphasizes the importance of playing the game in front of you—where the target is. It is tempting to focus upon whatever has ailed us. For golfers, that may be a bogey on the previous hole. For all of us, that may be regrets over things we’ve said, decisions we’ve made, opportunities we’ve blown. We must not let mistakes define us. Failure and setbacks are part of life, an opportunity to learn. Perhaps we have never confessed our sins and asked for forgiveness. But even when we may have admitted our mistakes we may still feel weighed down by our failings. How do we turn failures into opportunities? Johnny’s advice to play the game in front of you echoes the fall and rise of Joseph in the biblical book of Genesis. Joseph’s jealous stepbrothers attack him, toss him in a well, and even sell him into slavery in Egypt. But Joseph perseveres, keeping his eye on the big picture, rising into a position of influence within the Egyp- tian Pharaoh’s court. After his father dies, Joseph puts the dramatic events in context. READ THE BIBLE: Genesis 50:15-21 While Joseph could have held a sizeable grudge against his brothers, he adopts a divine perspective instead. He tells them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.” He rises above the fray. Disappointments and failure are a part of life. We must not be overwhelmed by what lies behind. We must strive toward what lies before us. We fix our gaze upon God’s greater intentions, finding our identity in Him. As Luke needs to look at the course laid out before him, so we must aspire to God’s glorious possibilities. QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER: Recall a major disappointment or embarrassing moment. How did that feel? When have we focused too much on our failures, rather than God’s possibilities? How can we experience forgiveness, trusting in God’s promises instead? For further information, read Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia by Dr. David L. Cook or go to www.linksofutopia.com Dr. Craig Detweiler directs the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture at Pepperdine University. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary. His latest book, Halos and Avatars: Playing Video Games with God offers practical advice for parents trying to navigate virtual worlds and video games with their kids.