Tuesday, April 17, 2012

When Memory Doesn't Fade

   Bubba Watson stole the show in Augusta a week ago, and remains the darling of the sports and entertainment world. The golf-playing, bible-reading, long-haired new father who grew up in the panhandle of Florida won his first major golf tournament and captured hearts around the world. 
   For me, Jack Nicklaus remains the greatest golfer to play the game. Ben Hogan probably had the best swing ever, Arnold Palmer was the first to draw huge crowds, and Tiger Woods the first to go from top of the world to under it in the time it takes to back down a driveway. Above them all, Jack Nicklaus' career and charisma are the standards by which champions are stilled measured. So, when Nicklaus, speaking this week at a charity event in Columbus, Ohio, listed Bubba Watson's shot in the playoff hole at the Masters as one of the best all-time, I took notice. If you are one of the few who has not seen it replayed on television, the 33-year-old UGA graduate was playing the second play-off hole against Louis Oosthuizen. After hitting deep in the woods, and still 164 yards from the pin without a clear shot to the green, Watson executed a miraculous recovery shot with 40 yards of hook and stopped the ball within fifteen feet of the hole. He won and added his name to the annals of history.
   Nicklaus, now 72, was asked to compare Watson's shot from a few days ago to shots he'd hit back in the day. Just minutes after claiming that he cannot remember what happened yesterday, he has perfect recall for some of the great moments from his career. "You can still feel the shot, the way it came off your hands, 30 or 40 years later. I still have that same feeling. I haven't matched it lately. I do know that feeling, though. And it's kind of fun to know what it feels like in golf." 
   We've all had those moments when the ball was struck pure, came off the center of the club face, and went exactly where we wanted. Beyond any game or sport, every person has experienced those moments when everything is just right. When she said Yes. When the baby cries and that is a great thing. When the tests come back negative. When the speech is delivered and people stand to cheer. When the promotion comes and you got it. When the applause is for your child and afterwards they give you the thanks and credit.
   The first disciples were living in just such a moment for the forty days after Easter (see Luke 24 or John 20-21) . The risen Christ was with them regularly, again, and the teaching and fellowship would be like nothing they had ever experienced. It would not last forever. Jesus would ascend to heaven, and they'd be left with the Holy Spirit to boldly go out into a new and hostile world. But, the New Testament  tells of how they were always able to return in their minds to those sweet moments. Those early victories that made the rest possible. 
   What memories do you cherish and return to, often? What moments from your past was God's presence in your life clear and palpable? Consider drawing up a list. Putting pen to paper, draw power from times when things were right and allow it to fuel the next right moments soon to be. Grace and Peace, Scott

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