Romans 3:3-4 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”
I’ve heard that character is who you are in the dark, when no one is watching. That’s a valid description in most scenarios, but I think character is also who you are when everyone is watching.
I flipped on SportsCenter recently, and one of the lead stories that day was that of Kevin Na, a PGA Tour professional. Fortunately for duffers everywhere, but quite unfortunately for him, Kevin had a really tough ninth hole at TPC San Antonio. After replaying the video to recount his strokes on this par four hole, he signed his card showing a sixteen. Yes. Sixteen.
Let that sink in a little. A professional golfer took a sixteen on a hole. He went from one under par to eleven over par in one hole. Pretty sure that’s a record of some sort…
In an interview afterwards, he said that one of his shots hit a branch and bounced back an hit him. As if getting hit with your own ball isn’t penalty enough, the rules call for a penalty stroke. Then, he swung one time and missed the ball altogether. Again, penalty stroke (though we hackers would probably call that a practice swing). He counted everything. Every. Single. Stroke.
There were three things that I noticed about that video clip that really stood out to me. First of all, standing in the woods and hitting through trees, the only person in the world that could know that the ball hit Kevin on a rebound is Kevin. Yet, he took the penalty, because those are the rules. Not only did that take courage, it was a significant show of integrity, of character.
Secondly, they showed him walking with his caddie toward the green (finally), and he was jovially laughing. He was fourteen strokes into a par four hole, and he was smiling and joking. “Not sure, but I think I’m somewhere between ten and fifteen,” he said to his caddie. There are duffers everywhere that would be breaking expensive clubs over one knee if they were “somewhere between ten and fifteen” on one hole, especially if they were miraculously one under par heading into that hole.
The last thing that really stood out to me was Kevin’s score on the back nine… a 33. That’s three under par for the back nine, those same nine holes that immediately followed his sixteen shot wonder. What an incredible show of fortitude!
We’ve all faced difficulties and trials, times when it would be easy to fold under the pressure. How we endure those difficulties speaks volumes about our character, and about the eternal hope we have. And that same confident hope allows us to regroup after a trial and “swing our club” once again.
Next time I’m tempted to use a “foot-wedge” from the woods, I hope I remember Kevin Na, and have the character he had when everyone was watching.
Grace and peace,