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A Masters for the Master
by James Robison

04/13/2007  

Golfer Zack Johnson address the media after winning the Masters.

I enjoy the game of golf. Though frustrating at times, it is challenging and exciting for players at every level. This past weekend I watched what I consider the number one sporting event of the year, even more than the Super Bowl (unless the Cowboys are playing!) The Masters Tournament captures the attention of millions, even those outside of golf’s normal viewing audience. Augusta National Golf Course in full bloom is breathtakingly beautiful.

Last weekend, everyone expected the world’s top player, Tiger Woods, to once again separate himself from the field. He started the tournament slow, but by Sunday afternoon he appeared to be poised for another winning comeback. But there was a problem. A small, intently focused player refused to fold. Zack Johnson flowed freely through every shot, making several pars and crucial birdie putts. Even after a spectacular, almost unbelievable eagle on the thirteenth hole, Tiger Woods could not close the gap. He finished along with several others tied for second place.

Zack Johnson would not be denied. He was rightly overjoyed. When the television interviewer caught him before the presentation of the coveted “green jacket,” Zack thanked his family and in one brief phrase on this special Easter Sunday, he thanked “Jesus.” It was in no way overbearing. It was just genuine gratitude.

Zack did not imply that God had given him some supernatural power to win the golf tournament. He simply acknowledged an abiding peace and tranquility that enabled him to accomplish a magnificent feat. First, he conquered one of the most difficult golf courses in the country at August National. Second, he endured the pressure of one of the most distinguished and prestigious golf tournaments in the world. Third, he beat perhaps the greatest player of all times even after Tiger temporarily took the lead.

In my opinion, Zack’s modest expression of gratitude is an answer to prayer. The best way to impact the world is to live the life we profess in genuine humility before God. We do not want to suggest that we have some magic formula or mystical power enabling us to achieve the impossible. Christianity does not work that way. (Believe me, I’ve tried it. Many times I have said a quick prayer, asking for help with a shot or a putt and it’s almost as if I can sense the Lord smiling at me and saying, “You’re on your own!”)

What we do possess is a supernatural inner peace that comes when we live out the faith we profess. The Bible clearly teaches that to be filled with His power and His presence is to manifest love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self-control. These abilities enable us to be far more effective in our daily lives. And when someone asks about our success, it’s like releasing a river of life. I witnessed this in Zack Johnson.

It reminded me of the excitement Payne Stewart expressed after winning a major tournament. Stewart went to be with the Lord having played his last tournaments wearing a little “WWJD” wrist band (“What Would Jesus Do?”). His funeral was very moving.

Years ago Steve Jones and Tom Lehman, two professing Christians, played in the final pairing of the U.S. Open. They continually comforted one another by quoting Scriptures – not only in their own behalf, but also for one another. The unlikely Steve Jones won the tournament. While somewhat disappointed, Tom Lehman expressed joy for his opponent and the peace of God that filled their lives. Aaron Baddeley has also referred to his faith in Jesus Christ after winning two PGA tournaments in the last 12 months.

I once commented to a PGA player about some highly visible golfers, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they knew God? They could sure do a lot for Him.” The wise Christian player and faithful witness responded to me, “I don’t want them to know God because they can do a lot for Him. I want them to know Him, because my God can do a lot for them!” This should always be our attitude.

Zack Johnson exemplified a spirit of genuine gratitude and humility while confessing the faith from which his peace comes. His witness was a victory for the kingdom of God that will outlast the victory of the golf tournament. This was truly “a Masters for the Master!”

 

Publishing Information

Author: James Robison

Word Count: 727

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net