Friday, December 4, 2009

Tiger Woods - the Legend is Human

...and right now, not a very pretty picture of humanity.

But an accurate one. And a reminder once again that our heroes can fall, even from very high and seemingly indestructable pedestals.

So what will we learn from Tiger's "transgressions," to use his word for his marital unfaithfulness and chronic adultery?

Tiger Woods is not just the envy of the average man on the street; he's no doubt the envy of quite a few of his fellow star athletes. He's the richest - at somewhere between $800 million and over $1 billion.  He's a legend on the golf course, and still young enough to grow that legacy. He has a beautiful wife, if external appearance means anything (and to most of us, it does) and a couple of healthy children.

And yet we've learned in the past two weeks that he has been involved in affairs with several (and maybe more than several) women, who's stories are beginning to be told in the media.

So Tiger Woods is a dirtbag. A sleazeball. A loser. A lowdown, no-good, cheating, carousing, two-timing member of the species.

I know that all sounds harsh, and some will say I'm oversimplifying his "situation." But sometimes the truth is pretty simple. And simple is something that most people, regardless of their moral or religious convictions, recognize pretty quickly and easily.  When a married man has sex with another woman, that's adultery. That's cheating on his wife. That's low. It's WRONG.  Even our irreligious media can get that one right (especially when it's guaranteed to sell).

I don't mean to single out Tiger Woods, as though he's the only one who ever "transgressed" in this way. The list of folks who have committed adultery is long and is not limited by economic or social class. We all know folks in our own workplaces, neighborhoods, and even churches who have cheated on their spouses (...there's more than one adulterer mentioned in the Bible!). And we know we're all capable of it, too.

I'm singling Tiger out because we observe a powerful truth at work - call it a spiritual truth if you want, but Truth, nonetheless.

Tiger has it all; I've already given the rundown of his accomplishments, blessings and worldly wealth. So you ask, "What more could a man want?" After all, who wouldn't trade places with Tiger Woods (before this past week's revelations, of course!)? And if not trade places, who wouldn't want to experience success at his level? Surely he has life by the tail?

But if we've learned anything, we've learned that success does not guarantee fulfillment. Something in Tiger's head or heart was still yearning, still not fulfilled, still searching. How is that possible, when he seemed to have it all?

Again, this will sound like a simplistic response, but the Truth isn't usually rocket science. Jesus said you can gain the whole world and still lose your soul. You can be so rich your neighbors all envy you, and yet be unhappy and still searching for something - just ask Zaccheaus.  Ask any Hollywood star, ask any great athlete. Ask Tiger.

He's not the first to learn this lesson. He won't be the his story slips off the front page there will be others. And there will be those in your circle of friends who won't get their picture in the tabloids.

The question is, what will Tiger learn from this? Anything? Will he do the necessary self-reflection, self-examination that could lead to acknowledging the deeper need in his spirit?

We should pray for Tiger - maybe he's at a place now where he himself has realized how empty his "full" life really is. That can be a good place to be - if we're spiritually open and willing to seek God's grace and redemption.

And every one of us should confess right now, "Lord, but for Your grace, there am I." And we should back away from judging the person (while still judging their behavior for what it is, wrong and hurtful to all concerned). We should see Tiger's fall as a warning of what can happen to any of us if we look for success or fulfillment in this worlds pursuits, accomplishments or treasures.

May you pray for Tiger, and for anyone else you know who is struggling in sin. And then pray for yourself. Ask God to keep you in his grace, and to help you find your life in Him.

Stay connected,

Pastor Mike

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