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The power to see it through

What if you tried something and failed? Would you have another go at it or just move on? I think most of us would agree that depends on what we’re talking about. If you rode a Ferris wheel, lost your lunch on it and it scared you to death—you’d probably look for amusement elsewhere rather than trying the wheel again. But for most things in life, we recognize that an initial failure is often just the tuition we pay in the school of learning.

What if you tried something 73 times and failed—would you keep trying or decide it was time to cut your losses? Whatever else is true, you’d probably be wondering if you’d crossed the sometimes fine line between perseverance and stubbornness.

Sergio Garcia, a professional golfer from Spain, had tried to win a major golf tournament 73 times. Before we feel too sorry for him it should be noted that he’s one of the tour’s top players, having won 31 tournaments with after-tax-winnings of over 28 million dollars. He owns a jet, a football team in Spain, and has residences in Spain, Florida and Switzerland. And, he’s about to get married.

Still, his failure to win a major after nearly two decades of trying weighed on him. He had made a big splash in the golf scene when he arrived on tour eighteen years ago and finished runner-up at a major (PGA) to Tiger Woods. He was feisty, colorful and possessed the exuberance of youth. After his second-place finish there, great things were predicted for him. Everyone thought he would win the first of many majors in the next year or two.

But it didn’t work out that way. As noted, Garcia has enjoyed a very successful career but if disappointments are measured in terms of expectations, then there was definitely something missing—a win at one of golf’s four major tournaments. He had been given the unwanted label of the best golfer never to win a major. Even Garcia had bought into the narrative. A few years ago he admitted, “I’m not good enough . . . I don’t have the thing I need to have . . . I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place . . . in any major.”

In the final round at Sunday’s Masters he had his chances to fold. He was down two strokes with six holes remaining. He tied it on 15, fell back a stroke on 16, tied it again on 17 and that’s the way they finished the round leading to a playoff. On the first hole of the playoff, Garcia was on the green in two strokes. His opponent had already putted in for a five, so he had two chances to win.

Golf is like tennis in that there is a code of silence that is followed when play is on. It’s unlike tennis (or just about any other sport) in that the crowd is right up on you.  So Sergio putted with hundreds of spectators in a semi-circle around him. As his putt headed toward the cup they rose as one to their feet in anticipation. As the ball did a half-circle around the cup and dropped, their arms extended upward and there was an explosion of noise. It was a high voltage moment.

Somewhere out there is someone who is in a lonely struggle. They’re trying to get their life together for the hundredth time; someone else is fighting an addiction that seems to have a stranglehold on their life; and another is just trying put one foot in front of the other.  All of them have tasted defeat more than victory (or maybe it just seems that way).  They wonder why God hasn’t given up on them. It all seems so daunting. There’s more to their story for sure, but the problem is they’re often unable to see much of the good because of the shadows.

If this describes your life then know this:  your day is coming. Paul says, “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life” (Romans 2:7). Right now it’s probably hard to see it through the storm but a glorious day is on its way and it will make Sunday’s special moment at the Masters absolutely pale by comparison.

Until then, find some people who can share your burden (church would be a good place to start) and keep your eyes on Him. Failure isn’t fatal and it doesn’t have to be final, so don’t let it be. Find in Him the power to see it through.

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