Monday, December 14, 2009

Praying for Tiger

This whole thing breaks my heart. If it doesn't yours, something is wrong with you. But, I am resisting the reaction of surprise, because it continues to be clear that no matter how exceptional someone appears, or how firmly someone appears to be standing, they (we) can fall. Kanye West and David Letterman, and Mark Sanford and Bernie Madoff, among others, have already reminded us this year. I never would have imagined that I should have included Tiger in those posts. The fall of Tiger seems different. But it isn't. His recovery seems difficult. But it isn't, as long as you define recovery correctly.

I'm not sure how you've responded to all this. One of my friends, who I don't think would consider himself a Christian, right after the accident and before any of the infidelity was public said, "Show me a human being, and I'll show you skeletons in their closet." A frighteningly true statement. Others have been working on the stand-up bits. The Santa and Tiger joke is funny, I admit. But what I'm going to do is pray for him. Because, as Dr. Albert Mohler says, "Something of far greater consequence than an illustrious career in sport is at stake here. Tiger Woods the human being is of infinitely greater value than Tiger Woods the brand." Mohler continues:

"Tiger Woods now finds himself in a disastrous crisis of his own making. There is no one else he can blame for his trouble and there is no public account that can undo the past. In a truly breathtaking reversal, Tiger Woods has gone from being one of the most universally respected figures in sport to one of the most widely discussed subjects of scandal. Clearly, it does not take long to fall from a pedestal.

"In one of his advertisements for Accenture, the image of Tiger Woods appears along with the words: "It's what you do next that counts." Much now depends on what Tiger Woods does next. If the American people are truly scandalized by his adultery, they must now hope and pray that this marriage and family can be rebuilt and sustained. Something of far greater consequence than an illustrious career in sport is at stake here. Tiger Woods the human being is of infinitely greater value than Tiger Woods the brand.

"For Christians, there is an even deeper concern. The current travail of Tiger Woods points far beyond his need for marital recovery, career consultation, or brand management. Tiger Woods needs a Savior. I am praying that this devastating experience, caused so classically by his own sin, will lead Tiger Woods to understand that he is not so self-sufficient as he thinks. Tiger Woods now faces a problem that he cannot solve. Though he can do much to repair his marriage, his family, and his public image, he cannot atone for his own sins. My prayer is that there is someone who can reach Tiger Woods with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"In the end, all this must remind Christians of the universal need for the Gospel. We must remember our own sin and our utter dependence upon the grace and mercy of God made ours in Jesus Christ. Without question, this is the most important lesson drawn from the travail of Tiger Woods. On his deathbed, Martin Luther offered these last words: "We are sinners, it is true." Tiger Woods is one of us, after all."

Jesus is not corny, people. We need him. The Gospel is not irrelevant. It is power for salvation. It is what we don't have for something we need. We will try a lot of things in its place to our own destruction. Perhaps the heroic rise, and rapid fall, of Tiger Woods from a place of public fascination and adoration, is setting the stage for an incredible testimony. Even if not, I'm thankful for the reminder that I am the recipient of as dramatic a display of saving grace as what Tiger needs right now. And you are (or can be) also.