West Franklin Family,
Earlier this week, Tiger Woods emerged from hibernation. Very little had been heard from him since he lost control of his vehicle on February 23rd of this year. Nine months. No Tiger. A social media post emerged of Tiger on crutches. And recently a short video appeared of him attempting to hit an iron on the driving range. Other than that? Nothing. For nine long months. Then, out of nowhere, to the delight of golf fans everywhere – Golf Digest posted an interview with Tiger the day before he held a press conference for a tournament he hosts.
I am a Tiger fan, so I was intrigued. But this is a letter to the Church at West Franklin. Some of you are golf fans. Others not so much. So why mention it here? Because Tiger said something in the Golf Digest interview that struck me. What he said has implications for all of us. It was fascinating and convicting and bold and sad all at the same time. Tiger Woods stated: “I don’t have to compete and play against the best players in the world to have a great life.“
No, Tiger. You don’t.
Think with me for a moment why this statement is so rich with implications.
First, everyone knows Tiger practically came out of the womb holding a golf club. Golf is all he has ever known. Being the greatest golf competitor in the world has been his only goal in life. Take a listen to this podcast to get a glimpse into Tiger’s world from birth. He has achieved being considered by many (most?) to be the greatest golfer of all time. And now, nine months after he almost loses a limb in a self-inflicted car crash, he claims he doesn’t need that to have a great life. Oh. My. Goodness. An implication? Being at the top doesn’t equal a great life. There is much more to life than being the best at something. (Watch this to see Tom Brady admit to a similar reality in 2008. Do yourself a favor and start at about the one minute mark.)
Second, Tiger has been forced to be on his back and depend on others for nine months. He has been forced to be with his kids. He has been forced to be with his mom. He has been forced to depend on caregivers. He could have said, “I have learned that I hate being around these people and that a great life is being on that golf course competing at the highest level!” But he didn’t. He said the opposite. He said competing as a golfer is not a great life nine months AFTER being forced to be around those closest to him and depending on their love and care. The implication? A great life means having real, vulnerable relationships with others who will love you for you.
Third, I wonder what Tiger’s would say? His father died years ago. But it is extensively documented how Earle Woods pushed and pushed and pushed Tiger to play and compete at an elite level. I wonder what Earle would think if he heard Tiger admit that being the best at golf isn’t a great life? I wonder if Earle would disagree? Think Tiger is crazy? Or would Earle feel guilty for raising his son to drink from an empty well? This thought alone has numerous implications. As a dad, it forces me to ask how I am raising my children toward a great life? It would kill me to think I pushed my children toward something that they actually achieved, only to realize how hollow it is. As a middle aged man, it forces me to ask if I am trying to climb a ladder that reaches nothing? Is my goal to be the greatest at something? The implication? Be careful how you define a great life.
West Franklin, I write this to you because I long for each of us to live the actual great life that is available. Life with God, life with one another. It isn’t wrong to play and compete at golf. It isn’t wrong to want to pursue greatness. It isn’t wrong to want to be the best. I hope you do. But having these things without intimacy with God and without others who love you for you will lead to a hollow shell of a life. On the other hand, not being “the best” while having life with God and with others is itself a full and great life. Jesus Himself said so.
Let’s learn from arguably the greatest golfer of all time: the great life isn’t being the greatest. The great life is walking with and knowing the One who is.
Jesus, keep us from empty lives.
Tomorrow: My Bible will be open to Genesis 11:1-9 – “Longing for Control.”
We will start our 8 am service option in the choir room. If you are interested and/or able, let me encourage you to make plans to be there.
Please go here to find out and register for all things Christmas!!!