Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15, 2009

"For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

This Tiger Woods thing has been hard on me. I admit that I bought into the image and the hype. Being a big fan and an admirer, I never saw this coming.
Golf is a very hard game. I know how hard it is. No one completely masters it but Tiger has come as close as anyone. That is why I admire him.
Few things are more difficult in sports than hitting a good golf shot under pressure to win a match or especially a tournament. I have done it a few times, Tiger does it all the time. Probably no one has been better at executing winning golf shots under the most extreme pressure than Tiger Woods. I can't help but admire that.
In addition to the physical skills involved in golf there is a mental aspect that is equally as difficult. Golf requires concentration and confidence like few other sports. It requires imagination and creativity. If you can't mentally envision a shot, you won't hit it well. When you stand over a game winning shot, if you are not completely committed to how you want to execute it and absolutely convinced you will do it, you won't hit the shot. Tiger has done that better over the past decade than anyone. In fact, it is his mental game that has probably separated him from all the other great golfers on the tour. Knowing how hard that is, I admire how he has mastered that aspect of the game.
Also, to compete at a high level in golf you have to be able to control your emotions. You have to get past a bad shot or an unfortunate bounce. Golf requires you to stay calm and even-tempered throughout the four hour round. Championship golfers don't have huge emotional swings during the game. When Tiger was "in his zone" you would see very little emotional expression at all for eighteen holes. That is another thing I admire.
It was those last two things, especially, the mental and emotional discipline he possessed that made it hard for me to believe that he had allowed his personal life to get in such a mess. I assumed that he applied the same focus and discipline to his closely watched and carefully crafter private life.
Obviously, he didn't. I can't admire that.
Only time will tell how well Tiger will recover from this. His image is forever tarnished. I only pray he will learn and change. There are a number of fine Christians on the PGA Tour. Hopefully one of them can come along side Tiger and point him to faith. I pray that his marriage will survive and his family remain intact.
Although it is a fluid situation and still developing, two things have become abundantly clear in the fallout from it. Both are good news: Character still counts and morality still matters. If Tiger ever doubted those two truths, he doesn't now. Hopefully others will learn from this painful lesson. I pray he will learn and change.
How does all this relate to Christmas? Christmas means there is redemption available for anyone of us. Because God sent Jesus and because Jesus was born of a virgin, He could die as an atoning sacrifice for sin. Your sin. My sin. Tiger's sin.
In golf, at the level Tiger plays, there are no mulligans. When you hit a bad shot, you take the penalty. But because of Christmas. Because God Sent Jesus and Jesus died for our sins, God will give Tiger a mulligan in life.
I pray Tiger will take the mulligan. I pray that at some point in the future he will tee it back and play a different course. I will admire that.