Recently I watched a piece on ESPN by Rick Reilly. It was a commentary about the last year of Tiger Woods' life. Reilly chronicled the story of hs fame and power and how it was all brought down by self-destructive behavior in his moral life. In the end, his immorality and impurity cost him millions and millions of dollars, prestige, and worst of all, his relationship with his wife. His relationship with his children has been changed forever.
Within a few weeks of that ill-fated 2009 Thanksgiving run in with a fire hydrant in Flordia, Tiger was busy with image rehabilitation. His handlers had a stratgey to get him back in front of the public, say the right things at the right time and then start working on the next 5 majors which would break Nicklaus's record. Over the past year we have witnessed this effort. He has talked about working on the person he is, and occassionally he would show flashes of the new nicer, kinder and gentler Tiger. But there would be flashes of the old Tiger too. Either way the changes did not translate into wins on the golf course. For the first time in his career he was winless for the year.
It should be no surprise to those of us who follow sports. Truth is that to win at any professional level, it takes the best that you have. Distractions, personal or professional are certain to doom almost anyone who plays sports at that level.
We are a "spiritually minded" people in America. Because of that, for Tiger, there were more than a few questions about his inner life. Almost all his answers were focused on his childhood religion of Buddhism. It may be something he truly believes in...but there is one problem... and it is the problem that Tiger has had all his life. It is self-centered. And therein lies the problem with our country in general. Faith has become self-centered rather than Jesus centered.
Reilly finished his piece with this insightful statement.
"What good does it to gain back everything on the outside, if so much is missing on the inside?"
Tht is a statement that sounds alot like what Jesus said. "What does it profit a man if he gainst the whole world but loses his soul?"
The two statements have the same answer. Starting on the outside and working inward is a dead end. Instead God says "start on the inside and let that be the catalyst for the changes on the outside."
I suspect that Tiger Woods will win more golf tournaments. I suspect that he will continue the rebuilding project that is before him. But if he does not figure out that rebuilding his soul begins and ends with God and Jesus Christ, there will be a day when he will have lots of records, trophies and the accolades of people, but still be empty inside. His life will always be defined by the events of 2009-10. On the surface it may all turn out well, but it will never be what it could have been if God had been at the center of His heart... not hmself.
There is a lesson there for all of us as well. As you contemplate new goals, new dreams and new hopes, start with your heart. Look inside first and make sure that God is at the center of what you are doing. We will be tempted to focus on the circumstances of 2010 and work hard to change things that did not turn out well. But we might take our cue from Jesus who set out to change hearts first, knowing that the rest would fall into line.
Happy New Year!