Because of my sports background and competitive nature, I enjoy watching athletes that are superb at their game. Their excellence is usually a combination of God-given skill (destiny) and what they do to maximize it (discipline).
When I first saw Tiger Woods play golf, I thought of that incredible combination: God-given talent and amazing focus. For a decade, Tiger reigned as the number one professional golfer in the world, winning over seventy tournaments and dominating the “majors” (the biggest tournaments which include the Masters, The British Open, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship).
During his decade of dominance, Tiger won 14 majors–second only to Jack Nicklaus winning 18 during his illustrious career. Most of us thought Tiger would one day eclipse the “Golden Bear.”
But suddenly in 2009, Tiger fell from grace and prominence. Now he’s trying desperately to get back on his feet.
Is Tiger Woods a picture or analogy of the United States of America?
The U.S. rose to become the number one nation in the world during the twentieth century. I believe it happened due to the same combination–a God-given destiny and the character of a people. Through God’s calling and the American response of vision and resourcefulness, the USA became the greatest and freest nation in the history of the world.
But at the present time, America is falling. We have the highest tax rate in the world; our educational system barely ranks in the top twenty; a suffocating 15 trillion dollars in debt mortgages our future; and many of our people live their lives for individual consumption and entertainment and not for the glory of God.
America is falling. The luster is off. Can we learn something by looking at the fall of our native son, Tiger Woods?
It seems to me that Tiger’s life is similar to the path of the United States. He seems to be an eery symbol of where we are and what we need to do.
Here’s the comparison.
TIGER: At a very early age, Tiger Woods understood his destiny and skill and rose to dominate the game of golf. I’ll never forget watching him win his first Masters title by fourteen shots–a rout. He went on to win three more and multitudes of other trophies. As a very young man, he was idolized by the world.
THE UNITED STATES: America also emerged at a very young age as a great power among the nations. After our victory in World War I, we played our own “Masters” in World War II by defeating the Germans and the Japanese. Our economy became the engine of the world, we led the globe in missionary work, and everyone was talking about the American century. In the 1950s we were at the top of our game.
TIGER: On Thanksgiving Day 2009, Tiger Woods had a major falling out with his wife when she–and the entire world–learned that he’d been sleeping around with other women and had been living a debauched life. It was painful to watch as his life and marriage unraveled over the next two years. The stories of infidelity and orgy-like sex were difficult to read. Tiger had grossly cheated on his wife, lied to his kids and family, and pretended to be something he was not.
To put it back in sports language, the “golf destiny” was still there but the “character” part had rotted. Tiger fell from grace, went to sexual addiction rehab, stopped playing golf, and tumbled from his lofty position. It was a time of humiliation and soul-searching.
THE UNITED STATES: From the 1960s and to this present day, America also has fallen from grace. During the sexual revolution, we, too, cast off godly restraint and “went-a-whoring” into fornication, adultery, and many sexual perversions we called “freedom.” Drugs and violence soon followed, and after God was removed from the public schools and then the public squares, the entire nation got out of kilter.
We lost a war in Vietnam; the national debt began to grow exponentially; Hollywood began to saturate the world with visual immorality in many forms. Our once godly and self-controlled society became ungodly and self-obsessed.
Today we appear humbled before the world, a caricature of our former self, enslaved to debt, an immoral and bankrupt people, and staring at an uncertain future for the first time in our history. As stated in the prophetic book The Harbinger, the terrorism attack on America on September 11, 2001 and then the economic collapse of 2008 were humiliating wake-up calls to an immoral nation. Would we respond?
TIGER: After Tiger’s fall, he appeared to be sorry and desire to re-build his life and reputation. After rehab, he held a press conference to announce his plans–and though he was humbled by his demise, there was no depth of repentance. Instead of turning to God, he indicated a return to his Buddhist roots. Then he began to play golf again and try to regain his stature. To date, he hasn’t made it back to the top.
THE UNITED STATES: After the terrorism attack, American also seemed chastened and ready to turn back to God. Our leaders sang “God bless America” and for a time, the churches were crowded. But there was no deep repentance for our sin–and soon we went back to our secular ways and pretended we were still “America.”
But in the fall of 2008, the credit bubble burst, and we once again were reminded of our vulnerability. At this point, America has not returned to God.
TIGER: A few weeks ago, Tiger Woods won his first tournament in almost two years. He felt he had a shot at winning the 2012 Masters–and once again be at the top of the golf world. But he badly bombed and is now looking for answers. As far as I know, he still hasn’t changed his ways and turned to God for restoration.
THE UNITED STATES: In 2012 we stand at a cross roads as a nation. We, too, desire to return to prominence and prosperity, but are unsure as to how to get there. The once young and dominant nation is a shell of its former self. The future is uncertain. Will America repent and arise?
I believe we can learn from the saga of Tiger Woods. All the skill or glitz in the world doesn’t cut it. Without character, and trust in God, a life can never really arise or be restored to greatness. It is still an empty shell without the forgiveness and power of God.
The same is true of nations. America stands at a cross roads. Will we feign repentance, and try to reach for the top without it? Or will we follow the true path that leads to forgiveness and restoration:
“If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”
It’s only destiny plus godly character that truly bring hope.