Sometimes it feels as if we’ve stepped into an episode of The TWILIGHT ZONE, the weekly television show created by Rod Serling in 1959. Each week was based on one of the most bizarre, unbelievable stories you could imagine, usually concluding with a shocking twist and a life lesson to go along with it.
I wonder what the life lesson will be for us when the global pandemic and pandemonium we know as 2020 is over. There will probably be several. Talk about material for an episode of The TWILIGHT ZONE.
If we want to get through all this maybe we should take a cue from the game of golf.
This weekend in Dublin, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, they’re playing the MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT, an annual event created and hosted by Jack Nicklaus, one of the most celebrated golfers ever to play the game. Lots of big name golfers are there, too: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Vijay Singh, Tony Finau, Ernie Els, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Texas’ own Jordan Spieth.
It’s always an amazing tournament with some of the world’s greatest golfers and the spectacular venue of the 220-acre Muirfield Village Golf Club. But this year will be different in many ways. Due to COVID-19, no patrons are allowed on the course. No galleries of fans cheering. It’s always quiet when the golfers hit. That hasn’t changed. But how weird it must be to hit a great shot and … nothing? No shouts of, “Go in the hole!” No thunderous roar from the crowd? On any hole or any shot? No vendors will be able to sell concessions. No advertisers will have tents full of the latest merchandise, because the customers have been quarantined from the course. It’s completely different, even from last year, when they played the same tournament on the same course at the same time with many of the same golfers.
But one thing hasn’t changed: the game itself. There are still 18 holes to play each day. There are still four rounds to get to the championship and there’s still an intense four-day competition between the best players to get to the end with the best score. The golfer with the lowest score will win and win big. $1,674,000.00 to be exact.
Keep in mind, they are in this same Twilight Zone episode we all find ourselves in. But somehow, in order to do their job, in order to win, they have to find a way to do it in spite of what we’re all going through.
And they will. Just watch.
In order to do their job, in order to win, they have to find a way to do it in spite of what we’re all going through.
How do they do it? It’s the same drill they’ve been taught since the first day they picked up a club. The same advice they’ve followed in every drill, practice session, round and tournament they’ve played in: Keep your head down and your eye on the ball! “If you look up,” as my golf buddy, Kevin Crawford likes to say, “you’re going to see a bad shot.” Something every golfer knows.
I have no idea what the next few days, weeks or even months are going to bring for all of us. But one thing I do know, this weekend I’m going to watch as much of the Memorial as I can. Not only because I love the game of golf and watching it at home, (while not as awesome as actually being there, it's one of the most relaxing things I ever do) but because we’re going to see again how the pros do it.
How in the world someone can win in the midst of such intense competition with all the other stuff going on should inspire all of us. And the reality is, even though you might not be able to play golf or even be interested in golf, every one of us can do what they are doing. We not only can survive what we’re going through, but succeed in the process and do so in a big way.
How? We have to do what the golfers have to do every time they play and what they’ll have to do this weekend if they want to win. Stay focused. Stay out of the sand traps. Avoid the hazards. Keep it in the short grass.
Paul put it like this: “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).
In other words …
Keep your head down and your eye on the ball.
© 2020. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.