Growing up in North Carolina, two things are paramount when it comes to sports. You had better like basketball, or better yet play basketball, and you had better like golf. Last week I had the privilege of doing Palm Sunday events for First Baptist Church in Pinehurst and they got me on Pinehurst No. 8, a truly world class course. I wish I could say the same about my game on the given day, but since I had only played eighteen holes thus far this year due to the terrible winter weather in Kentucky, I had to be satisfied with the odd par or two.
Growing up in the South also involves watching Christian athletes use their athletic prowess as a platform to bear witness to Jesus Christ. I have no problems with this if it is genuine and sincere, and there could hardly have been a more sincere 31 year old today than Zach Johnson, a Christian kid from Iowa who miraculously won the Masters today beating out Tiger Woods no less and dissolved into tears at the end. They asked him how he remained so calm and his response was honest "Really I wasn't calm, but its Easter, and my faith is very important to me, and Jesus was with me all the way." What the commentator had mistaken for Stoicism was not really about Zach's own steely self discipline. It was about Zach's trust in the Lord, and sensing His presence. Sometimes God's guys win. Hooray.
Does God care who wins some sporting event? Well some people will tell you no. But if God is anything like my father at all, who cares passionately about the things his children care about, of course he would be pleased when a Christian has a moment to glorify Him before millions of viewers by striving for excellence in his chosen field and giving credit to his Maker. Besides that, great Christian golfers who are now with the Lord like Payne Stewart must be smiling as well. And here's the odd thing about-- this was may be the best field ever and the worst weather ever at the Masters-- freezing temps and 30 mile an hour winds. If anyone should have wilted it should have been the rookies not the grizzled vets. And then there was another odd thing, call it a premonition.
Earlier in the day Nick Faldo, a rather crusty former British golfer and now commentator for CBS, and a person certainly not famous for being a prophet said on air: "I just have this sense that Tiger's going to put it in the water on 13 or 15 and then some young kid is going to win his first major championship." Well that's exactly what happened today.
Once Tiger put it in the drink on the back nine, there was no recovering, not even with a miraculous shot in which he swung a club through a tree trunk, breaking the club but still somehow advancing the ball up to the green. Maybe there's something to that Rom. 8.28 thing--- "God works all things together for good for those who love Him...." In any case the Master must be smiling about the Masters on the day the greatest miracle of all happen for him personally.