Daily Devotional for Wednesday August 6, 2014
The Fall of the Great Eldrick Tiger Woods
(Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 5:28; Ephesians 5:22, 25)
The fall of the great Eldrick "Tiger" Woods and the good chance he will never win another golf tournament, let alone another major. The man many legitimately argue is the greatest golfer of all time, Tiger Woods, left a big tournament this past weekend in Akron, Ohio with back problems. It could signal the end to one of the greatest careers in not just golf, but all of sports. Woods, who will turn 39 in December, is currently second on the list of all time wins with 79, 3 behind Sam Snead and 6 more than the great Jack Nicklaus. His number one career objectives since he started playing golf as a child was to win more "majors" than the 18 won by Nicklaus. Woods is currently 4 behind with 14.
Having watched Tiger Woods entire career since he began in 1996, it has been a great joy to personally witness possibly the greatest talent ever to play the game of golf. During the first 13 years of his career, there has never been anyone in any sport as dominate as Woods. His ability to make the clutch tee shot, the impossible approach from off the fairway, the endless critical putts, was indeed special to see and something you knew was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness.
Everything changed for one of the most recognizable people on the planet over Thanksgiving in 2009. That is when after a fight with his then wife, former Swedish model Elin Nordegren, the very private and carefully crafted world of Tiger Woods was laid bare for all to see in this 24/7 media age as it became known he had been engaging in numerous extra-marital affairs during the years he was married. Woods had always maintained a squeaky clean image of wholesomeness and surrounded himself with the best handlers who always positioned him as the epitome of excellence both on and off the golf course.
Woods and Nordegren married in 2004 and had a daughter and son together. They were promoted as the ideal family, but sadly things are not always the way public relations firms present them. Tiger Woods had another side to his life the cameras never saw as he had been involved sexually with dozens of women during his marriage. I remember writing in the Daily Devotional about this at the time saying, "However, all his money, all of his victories, all of the lawyers, will never change the fact that Woods committed adultery and will pay a huge price in many other ways." Would that prove to be an understatement!!!
Since that fateful day during the Thanksgiving holidays in 2009, it took Woods 2 years and 4 months to win another golf tournament, and he has won just 8 times over the 5 years since the incident. Five of those wins came last year when it looked like he might be getting back to the Tiger Woods of old. However, none of his wins were in the coveted majors, with his last major victory coming in 2008. Worse of all, Woods finely tuned body that he spent countless hours to maintain was breaking down and he had one injury, one surgery, after another. The most serious were injuries to his knee and back that forced him to miss many months of tournaments, including several majors.
It was an injury to his back again that caused Tiger Woods to withdraw at the 9th tee of the World Golf Championship Tournament over this part weekend. An awkward shot at the edge of the bunker on the 2nd hole either caused him to re-injure his previous back problem or create a new one. Either way, after nearly 30 years of forcing his body to engage in unnatural violent actions over and over and over, his body seems to have had enough and it would be a miracle for him to even try to compete at this weeks PGA Championship, let alone in any more tournaments this year.
I am not a doctor, but have played many different sports competitively into my early 40s when I simply didn't have the time to any longer. I have watched athletes compete in all kinds of sports for 50 years now, and have seen some of the greatest competitors in history like Johnny Unitas, Willie Mays, Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, simply not be able to compete at the highest levels any longer because of the one thing none of them could conquer...AGE!
Even though Tiger Woods might heal and be able to keep competing on the PGA Tour into his 40s, I honestly will be surprised if he ever wins another golf tournament, let alone another major. Over the years, there has been a new generation of gifted young golfers who have come on the scene like the current world's number one player Rory McIlroy. Just like there was a changing of the guard as Tiger came onto the scene at the end of the 90s, so there is a changing of the guard taking place today as happens in all sports.
A legitimate spiritual question to ask is God judging Tiger Woods for his sins? If so, why did God allow him to be as successful as anyone who has ever played the game of golf during all of those years he will living such a sinful lifestyle unbeknownst to his wife and the rest of the world. Only God knows the answer to the latter question, and I certainly am not going to speak for God and say all of the hardships professionally and personally he has faced since Thanksgiving of 2009 is God's punishment, though never forget there are always very real consequences for our sin.
I do believe that a large part of the Tiger Woods story isn't about golf, but a great reminder to men and women who are cheating on their spouses that SIN HAS A PRICE! While you think you are getting away with your sin, never forget God is watching. In the end, is it worth the cost? Satan is so crafty as he entices men and women to sin. It looks so attractive. It looks so perfect. Nobody will ever know. He knows your weaknesses. He will give you all the justification you need. Once you give in, all of a sudden the bill for your sin starts to come in. It is like getting a $5,000 water bill, or a $12,000 electric bill and satan is only going to laugh at you when you complain about the price!
For those who are under conviction by these words today because of the sinful choices YOU are making, this could be the very tap on the shoulder from God that could keep your marriage from ending in divorce. Satan is very subtle in how he destroys marriages, and in the process, entire families since you can't sin in a vacuum! Nobody wakes up one morning and decides to become an adulterer. You let down the guard protecting your heart, and soon an innocent flirtation or fantasy in your mind ends up manifesting into the act of adultery!
Even if a relationship outside of your marriage never culminates in having sex, never forget that Jesus said if you lust in your heart you have committed adultery. You are giving someone else the emotions, feelings, and attention that should ONLY be given to your spouse. When you got married, that is the person God gave you for the rest of your life to pour all of your emotions, feelings, love and attention into. NOBODY ELSE! That is the person who God gave you to enjoy sex with. NOBODY ELSE!
I love you and care about you so much. Pray for Tiger Woods, his ex-wife, and their children. On top of the scars from the adultery, is all of the damage to their lives through getting divorced. Pray that they will turn to the Lord and find His healing as they move forward in their lives. The saddest part of the Tiger Woods various statements in the months following the public exposure of his infidelity, was his claims about his Buddhist faith.
Woods mother is from Thailand and a Buddhist. Woods stated that he has been a practicing Buddhist all of his life, though strayed from its' teachings years ago, helping to lead him to make the choices that caused his downfall. Sadly for Tiger, his golf career is really the least important thing since unless he comes to know Jesus by faith, when he takes his last breath Woods will end up losing something far more important than a golf tournament, HIS SOUL! As one of the most well known people in the world, Tiger Woods could become an incredible ambassador for Christ if he truly got saved. With the worldwide platform the Lord has given him through golf, he could influence tens of millions worldwide for Christ!
I will also be praying today for those of you who are dealing with a spouse who has become involved with someone else. Never forget, you are not responsible for the actions of your spouse. God gave us each free will and only He can change your spouse's heart. Now is the time to make your faith real and learn to trust God during this difficult time. Find your peace and strength in Him each day and know that He is still in the restoration business! I will be praying for you and the Lord's strength, and for your spouse to turn their heart and life back to the Lord so He can bring healing and restoration to your marriage.
Because of the widespread nature of this issue, know that I will be spending time in prayer for those of you who are dealing with this in your life. Both those who are committing adultery, and those who have a spouse cheating on them. My prayer is that you will find that intimate personal relationship with the Lord that you need to overcome the circumstances you are facing in your life. No matter how hopeless things may look, there is ALWAYS hope in Christ. Get right with God, then get right with your spouse. It is the only answer, and God will help you when you commit your life to Him and follow His Word.
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ,