The phrase has lived in my family for generations. When you have an eight-foot putt, and you only make it four feet, here it comes: “Hit it, Alice!” Usually from the mouth of the one who putts (the putz, according to Kline 3:16), but if he forgets, his brothers will certainly belt it out for him.
I’ve also started applying “Hit it, Alice!” to my pickleball game, similarly when my shot doesn’t even make it to the net. It wasn’t a problem until we actually had a lady named Alice come to play with us. She was not amused at my taking her name in vain. Incidentally, we play pickleball at SHLC on Thursdays (4-7pm), Fridays (12-2pm) and Sundays (1-3pm).
At first the phrase wasn’t referring to a woman named Alice, but to British golfer Peter Alliss. In the 1963 Ryder Cup, he was on his way to beating Arnold Palmer. During the match he badly missed a three-foot putt, prompting someone from the gallery to yell out, “Nice putt, Alliss!” A legend was born!
Sometimes your best efforts come up short. Or you’re trying to do something you simply don’t have the talent for – like me and putting. Or maybe your heart just isn’t in it, and the outcome is less than desirable. Hit it, Alice!
In Mark 9, the disciples were up north having a great time healing the sick and driving out demons in the name of Jesus, but they came across a boy with a demon they just couldn’t conquer. Hit it, Alice!
The boy’s father rightly brought him to Jesus and said, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“If?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
“I believe,” he said. “Help my unbelief.” Hit it, Alice!
Peter walked on water himself, for a few feet, until he took his eyes off Jesus and saw the wind. David saw himself as a righteous believer until he also saw Bathsheba taking a bath.
Mary and the girls could carry the burial spices, but who would roll the stone away? Thomas refused to accept the Resurrection until he could touch it.
Hit it, Alice!
You’re not going to make every putt. You’re not going to succeed on every project. You’re not going to rise to every occasion and be the follower of Jesus you really want to be. At some point, in some moment in your walk with Christ, even your faith will fail you. You will fail you.
But Jesus won’t.
When you’re fighting a battle bigger than you are, you bring the fight to Jesus, in a sense. When trusting in God is the right thing but the hardest thing, you call in the only One who gets it and gets you. When you so want to fix your eyes on Jesus but the wind and waves turn your head, as you feel yourself sinking, do what Peter did: cry out, “Lord, save me!”
Jesus reached out His hand, pulled Peter up, got himback in the boat. And yes, Jesus chastised him a little bit.
We need that. We need the Lord to remind us of where our real strength comes from, and where our only hope lies. We need Him to re-center our GPS, to refocus on our destination. It’s OK when God tells us, “Hit it, Alice!”
But do not let that deter or diminish your faith, or take you off your game. He’s coaching us! And don’t crucify yourself for things that have already been Crucified, or for demons that are bigger than you. Get out of your own head, and get off your own back!
By the way, my putting has vastly improved the last couple years. Instead of leaving the ball four feet short, I’ve got it down to two feet away. On the other side. Off the green.
So stop calling me Alice!
Pastor Steve Kline was installed as Senior Pastor at SHLC on May 25, 2014, after serving 12 years as Senior Pastor at Zion in Wayside, WI. He was ordained in 1992 and previously served congregations in Pulaski and Hales Corners.