Wednesday, January 25, 2012

For Those Who Think We Have it Easy

Twas an interesting 48 hours for Team Thompson in the final few days of the Humana Challenge last week. It appears that God decided to throw a little adversity at us for the last two days of the tournament. 
Michael was -1 and tied for 95th going into the second round of a tournament where everyone was shooting low. He shot a 67 (-5) which under normal circumstances would shoot you up the leaderboard. So it was kind of a let down when he only moved up to just inside the cut line (tied for 61st). I had to point out to Michael that it was actually a really great round, all part of God’s plan. He grumbled a bit and then we went out for Mexican food. That made him feel a whole lot better because he LOVES Mexican food.
We heard talk of a windy Saturday and predicted 20-30 mph winds from early afternoon to late evening. Of course we were not phased...Michael plays well in the wind, He was set to play the La Quinta Course which sets up perfectly for wind and for his game (Hole #1 a little fade over the left bunker, Hole #2 a little fade over the left bunker, Hole #3 a little get it) blah blah blah...HA!!!
Michael was -2 through 4 holes when the winds started. Suddenly (and I mean SUDDENLY) the winds started whipping through the trees, branches broke off, leaves littered the greens and moved balls (I am sure the Rules Officials were all over the place making rulings on moving balls), dust and debris flew everywhere, and the ducks in the lake who were paddling for their lives were unable to make any progress (we cheered them on). And then the REAL winds came. The players played 3 holes in the chaos (3 pars for Michael...didn’t I say he played well in the wind?) and then a tree went down on #17 and they called everyone into the clubhouse. Apparently all that constituted “dangerous playing conditions.” The ducks had to stay in the lake...
I am not sure how fast the winds were, but the Golf Channel said some gusts were up to 90 mph. I will NON-affectionately dub the weather Hurricane Humana. While we sat in the clubhouse, Hurricane Humana caused palm trees to bend in half and palm fronds to whip through the air. A dust storm came up from off the mountains and made visibility tough (as well as made all the amateurs cringe at the thought of the state of their Bentleys, Jaguars, Maseratis, etc). The players received a text that there was a possibility they would go back out and play...that made us chuckle.
They finally called it after about an hour of waiting and we all headed home amid reports that trees were down all over the place at La Quinta, some bleachers on other courses were leveled (no one injured), the scoring trailer had fallen over (how will the players sign their scorecards without a scoring trailer I ask?), port-a-potties had been knocked over (with people in them...yuck), most of the tents in the spectator area next to the clubhouse had been leveled (they “evacuated” spectators to the middle of the driving range at PGA West...yeah that is where I’d want to be in a hurricane, in the middle of an open field), and the large scoreboard on #18 Palmer course was floating in a nearby lake. They told the players that play would resume the next morning (Sunday) at 7:30 am so we went home and cooked dinner (Tacos...more Mexican) for ourselves, Michael’s mom Beth who drove over to watch the tournament, Lee Janzen, and Paul Stankowski and his wife and children. We had a lovely evening and went to bed with full bellies and high spirits in anticipation of the fun day to come.
The weather was crisp and cool when we woke up at 4:30 am on Sunday morning to begin preparations for the 30 holes Michael was to play that day. We (along with every other golfer and caddie playing that morning apparently) had breakfast at McDonalds as it was too early for the clubhouses to have breakfast ready. Michael finished his 3rd round shooting a 69 (-3). Upon signing his scorecard, the officials told him he was the 3rd tee time off for the 4th round over at the Palmer Course at PGA West. Let me just set this up for was about 10:05 am when Michael finished his 3rd round and signed his scorecard. He played his 3rd round at La Quinta Course and the 4th round was at PGA West, about 10 minutes away with minimal traffic. Michael needed more golf balls, gloves and different shoes before the final round, all in his locker at PGA West...His tee time??? 10:30 am.
I think we may have broken some speed records and traffic laws, but by God’s grace there were no cops to stop us. We hightailed it over to PGA West and Michael ran with his 75 pound golf bag to get ready for the final round, making his tee time with minutes to spare (it is a 2 shot penalty if you miss your tee time even by a second). It was understandably an up and down final round of golf, but Michael seemed to have a good attitude through it all shooting an even par 72 with a birdie on the final hole and finishing tied for 54th. Overall, the entire tournament was a great learning experience as Michael learned how to keep his composure and his game together when things were uncomfortable and in the face of adversity. I am more proud of him this week than any of his top 5 finishes on the PGA tour thus far.
In the Bible, Proverbs 24:10 (ESV) says “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Michael could have gotten upset and moaned about the unfairness, asked for them to change his tee time, been pissed all day at the situation and played terrible. But he didn’t. He ran to make his tee time, he looked over to me and smiled, he went out there and fought all day to keep everything under control and in doing all that, he showed his strength in the face of adversity...and showed his faith in and brought glory to God.
James 1:2-4 (NIV) says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” We must be joyful when things don’t go the way we want or plan. Learn from the trials and become a better person because of them. God’s goal with your life is to bring you closer to Him; to mold you and shape you to be more like Christ. Whatever platform God has chosen for your life, He will throw things at you that you don’t expect and aren’t prepared for. But take comfort that if you couldn’t handle it He wouldn’t have given it to you. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Never lose faith in God. He never loses faith in you.