Still The Champ

I’m not much of a golfer. I have had family members who are really into it but I don’t really watch it. The only thing I know about golf is, try to get the tiny white ball into the tiny hole, from hundreds of yards away using as few swings with your club/putter as possible. That’s golf in a nutshell. I’m not familiar with all of the rules/details other that that. I’m more of a mini putt type of gal. Although if given the opportunity I wouldn’t turn down the chance to learn. I can see how it would be relaxing. Plus it’s a chance to be outdoors and have good conversation. I would definitely have to work on my aim and follow through, for the sake of fellow golfers and on-lookers alike.

But even with my limited knowledge of the mighty golf sport, there is one thing that I do know. More specifically, a name. Mr. Tiger Woods. This name has become synonymous with golf. You can’t discuss golf without talking about Tiger Woods. He’s one of the best that has ever played the sport with far too many achievements to mention here. (Google is your friend.) The latest being his most exciting by far, winning his FIFTH Masters! Why is this one different from all the others? Because it came from a much deeper place than just winning or the money. This was personal. This one was years in the making. This was his “comeback.”

When I heard that he had won I was so happy for him! I’ve never even met the guy and like I’ve mentioned, I don’t even watch golf. But there was something about his story that I absolutely loved. I went on YouTube to watch the highlights and especially his winning putt. The look on his face was priceless. The joy and the victory that he clearly felt was so emotional. The way he celebrated with his kids and his mom. All the hugs and high fives as he moved through the crowd that was cheering and chanting his name. But as I watched the crowd and all the smiling faces, I couldn’t help but think to myself that it was just a few short years ago that it was a very different scene for him.

This same Tiger Woods that had chanting crowds around him as he won his fifth Masters tournament, was the same guy that not too long ago was the butt of everyones jokes. Every time you turned on late night television, they mocked him. The news turned his personal life into a soap opera. The tabloids splashed his mistakes out for the world to see with no regard to how it would affect him or his family. We won’t go into the details of his past because, that’s just it. It’s his PAST! The world has done enough damage to last numerous lifetimes. I can’t imagine what he went through. I’ve made my own share of mistakes and have my own regrets. The difference is that I was given the grace to work through them privately with some dignity. And on top of all of that, he has had several surgeries over the years that has also kept him from playing professional golf. Being kept away from something you love so much must have been excruciating for him.

I watched a video of Tiger sitting down with an interviewer as he watched replays of several people from the past criticize him when he was going through his difficult times. He watched them say things like, “He’ll never play golf again.” “He’s finished.” “He just needs to walk away and retire.” The best part about it? He was watching all of this as the new Masters champion! How’s THAT for an “in yo face” moment?! HA! So amazing!

I thought to myself, how quickly people change. He went from being loved and revered and respected to being mocked and criticized. He even had the majority of his biggest company endorsements desert him and stopped working with him. (Nike was one of two companies that stuck with him!) The man had made some big mistakes, that’s true, but I thought to myself, where’s some grace for this guy when he needs it most? This guy had so much money and fame which in turn gave him access to things we can only dream about. Every level of success has a new level of temptations. And who’s to say that you or I wouldn’t do the same thing if we had access to what he had? Something to think about.

One of the positive things that I believe has come out of what Tiger Woods went through is that now he knows who is really for him and who was just hanging around to get something from him. He knows who his real crew is now. The ones that stuck by him no matter what they were saying about him. The ones that cried with him, encouraged him, got angry with him, made him laugh when he was feeling down. They wanted his company when all he had to offer was himself. They cheered him on because they still saw “the champ” in him.

This reminds me of a scene in a movie I saw a few months ago. The movie is called “Second Act” and stars Jennifer Lopez and Leah Remini. I loved this movie but I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll just talk about one scene that fits as an example to the point I’m making. In this scene, Jennifer Lopez’s character is doubting whether she should go through with something. She’s doubting her abilities etc. Her best friend is trying to encourage her and get her pumped up. So she asks JLo, “Who’s the champ?” as she playfully slaps her across the face. She asks her again, over and over, “Who’s the champ?” again, playfully slapping her across the face each time before JLo’s character finally answers “I’m the champ!” and then slaps her friend back as she walks away and proceeds to kick butt later on in the movie. Yes it’s a funny scene in a movie but it also conveniently makes my point.

Tiger Woods was always the champ. Even when it seemed like he was down for the count. He just needed time to dust himself off and remind everyone who he really is. And the fact that this all happened on Palm Sunday, resurrection week of all weeks makes this whole thing even more perfect! Who else do we know that was praised in one moment and criticized and mocked in the next? Who else was considered down for the count and everyone thought he would be forgotten? Sound familiar? It should.

Jesus himself rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday surrounded by cheering fans singing his praises. They were crying “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” over and over again. Waving palm branches in the air. Throwing their coats down on the dusty ground so his donkey could walk over top of them. This was their long awaited Messiah. The one that was going to set them free from Roman tyranny. But it was merely one week later that that same crowd that cheered him on was now shouting for his crucifixion. Their beloved Messiah was now standing before them, severely beaten and shackled. How quickly people can change. Wanting to be around you and cheer you on, have their picture taken with you, name drop you in conversation in one minute, and the next they’re betraying you, denying they even know you, criticizing you and calling for your demise. It must have been a horrible feeling. But it wasn’t over for Jesus either.

He knew something they didn’t. He allowed himself to be mistreated because He knew that it was only a matter of time before He would make the ultimate comeback. He may have gone to the cross as a lamb to the slaughter, but He was coming back as the reigning champion. The King of Kings. The Saviour of not just the Jewish people but of ALL people!

Resurrection week is a reminder of what Jesus did for us but it is also a reminder of the power of resurrection itself. God can resurrect anyone, any situation at any time. It is He who deems us worthy, not other peoples opinions.

You might “appear” to be knocked down in one season but that doesn’t mean that you’re down for the count. There’s still a champion inside of you and if you give yourself enough time, you’ll show everyone when you get back up and come out swingin’! You’re still the champ! Go get’m Tiger!