Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tiger - Meet the Lion

Where do I start?

I’m referring to the trials and tribulations of Tiger Woods. When first I heard the story about his having a car accident, ironically, I was on the golf course. My mother called me on my cell phone. I didn’t answer because I was in a foursome and didn’t want to be a distraction, plus we were teeing up on the 18th tee box so we’d be finishing in the next fifteen minutes anyway. I did listen to my mother’s voice message that said, “I suppose you’ve heard what happened to Tiger. Talk to you later.” No, I had not heard anything about Tiger. So as soon as we finished play, I called my mom to find out about Tiger.

Well, this sordid tale has grown to the point that most people are already weary of any further details. How many more women need to come forward claiming to have had a tryst with Tiger? That his marriage is in trouble is an understatement. That his children will have to endure years of snickering and tasteless comments is a given. That his persona as a professional golfer/athlete is forever tainted is the enormous price to be paid when such personal indiscretions are made public.

Like most of you, I was hoping that Tiger’s early morning incident was nothing more than an easily explained fender-bender. Alas, such is not the case. I have been a Tiger fan since he emerged on the professional golf circuit thirteen years ago. I never thought I would see anyone as good as Jack Nicklaus. Tiger simply took the PGA by storm. I truly believed he would be the one to break Jack’s record of eighteen major championships. As much as I like Tiger, in my personal estimation, only Bobby Jones would be in a class by himself. There are two reasons for this. First, Jones played during an era when American golf was first gaining world-wide recognition. The British golfers owned the sport up till then. Jones changed all of that. He was also the consummate “Southern Gentleman” from Georgia. Bobby Jones also played in an amateur status because of the negative image professional athletes had in that era. On top of that, he always played with golf clubs that were made of hickory wood, hitting drives 350 yards. Secondly, Bobby Jones only played competitively for eight years, concluding his career by winning the Grand Slam in 1930, a feat accomplished only once since then by Tiger Woods. Purists will say that Tiger didn’t really win the Grand Slam because the four events, though won in succession, were won over two seasons of golf (2000-2001). But more importantly, Bobby Jones kept a promise he made to his wife, a promise to leave competitive golf at the end of 1930, allowing him to return to his law practice where he would be home with his wife and five children. Bobby had his priorities straight – family first.

I hear the question asked, “Will all of this trouble of infidelity affect Tiger’s golf game?” Whether it does or doesn’t is irrelevant. The man has fallen into his own personal hell, a condition he created for himself. Arguably he is the most famous athlete in the world, and the most recognized. He has built an image for himself that comes across as someone who is clean-cut and in control. He seems very likable when interviewed by the media, and has rejuvenated professional golf at a time when it needed rejuvenating.

However, Tiger is now facing the crumbling of his world. Endorsers are pulling out, starting with Gatorade, with rumblings of others to follow suit. Tiger has made far more money through his endorsements than from playing golf. He is the first billionaire athlete. True, money is no object for him, but he is now being subjected to the ramifications of his actions. In a sport where cheating is regarded as the unforgivable sin, his extra-marital affairs will forever stain his image in the minds of sports fans – golf fans in particular. He has sullied the game of golf. Sure, he may go on and win future tournaments. He may even play better than ever. And he may yet grasp the golden ring in breaking Jack’s record of eighteen majors. But how empty that will be! He will have lost the respect of his peers in his profession, his name will be a byword throughout the sports world, and he will have left a legacy for his family that will be the source of jokes and ridicule for years to come.

It is my prayer that Tiger will seek the Lord. Why? Because it is the Lord who created him, and who established and ordained the act of marriage. In Hebrews 13:4 it is the Lord who instructs us to “honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex.” Paul describes in the Letter to the Galatians that “it is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.”

Tiger can yet be a hero to his children and his wife by allowing the Lord to cleanse his heart and soul from the ravages of sin, and loving their mother as God intended. “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting.”

There are consequences to our actions in life. Tiger may be regarded as the greatest golfer of all time, but many will never see him as anything more than an adulterer. Ah! But God loves Tiger and is in the business of restoring lives. He wants to restore Tiger’s.

Nothing would bring greater joy than to know that Tiger has been introduced to Jesus. And by the way, Jesus is described in the Bible as a lion. In fact, he is the Lion – and this Lion always wins. Tiger has met his match!

Update on Tiger, Saturday, December 12:

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