Back in the 1996 Masters Golf tournament, Greg Norman had one of the most embarrassing experiences an athlete has ever suffered. After three rounds he had a virtually insurmountable, six-stroke lead. If he played eighteen more holes of just average golf he would win the Masters and take possession of the coveted green jacket. The next day, however, the bottom fell out for Greg Norman. On the fourth and final round of the tournament he shot a 6 over par, 78. Nick Faldo shot a 67 that day and ended up winning the tournament by five strokes.
However, Greg Norman’s big time “choke” ended up being one of the most positive events in his life. After the debacle, he says he experienced the most touching few days of his life. People from all over the world contacted him with words of encouragement. The mail ran four times the volume of what Norman received when he won the British Open in 1993.
“It’s changed my total outlook on life and on people,” Norman said of his defeat. “There’s no need to be cynical anymore. My wife said to me, ‘You know, maybe this is better than winning the green jacket. Maybe now you understand the importance of it all.’ I never thought I could reach out and touch people like that. And the extraordinary thing is that I did it by losing.”
Greg Norman learned an important lesson which the Bible clearly affirms: Our weaknesses can bring joy and beauty into our lives. Because his “failure” was viewed by millions of people on television, there was no way which he could hide it from others. His experience teaches us that if we are willing to admit our weaknesses and not try to pretend we have no problems, other people are likely to be more sympathetic toward us. People are often intimidated by (and perhaps envious of) the individual who always seems to be a “winner.” When we allow other people to see our flaws, new doors are often opened in building relationships with them.
Acknowledging our weaknesses also enables us to grow closer to God. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 the Apostle Paul writes, “The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Those who believe they are always “winners” and think they are strong enough to succeed in whatever situation they face seldom have a reason to turn to the Lord for help. Only when we realize that we are in desperate need of God’s grace and forgiveness in Jesus are we able to experience them in our lives. God does not help those who help themselves. Rather, He helps those who know they are weak, who seek to find their strength and joy in the Lord Jesus.
Yours, always grateful that I can be strong in the Lord,
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church