Devotional: August 19th
During the two weeks leading up to the contesting of the our national golf championship, the U. S. Open, all the talk was about how the cream rises to the top at the Open like no other golf championship. The top ten golfers in the world will be the ones who will shine. Surely the champion will come from this elite group of golfers. Maybe one of the "Big Four" will win. Maybe Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els will claim victory at the end of play on Sunday. After all, it is the Open.
At the beginning of play on Thursday, Phil Mickelson was heard to remark that seventy-two pars would win the championship. He didn't see anyone finishing under par on the difficult, almost diabolical, Donald Ross layout at Pinehurst #2. According to Phil's prediction a score of 280 for the four days would be sufficient for victory. No doubt one of the top golfers in the world, one of the "Big Four", could manage par. Par did win the Open. But the best any of the name players could do was two over. Tiger Woods, the number one player in the world, finished with a 282.
Vijay Singh finished tied for sixth. Last year's champ, Retief Goosen, tied for eleventh after entering the final round at three under with a four shot lead. Ernie Els tied for fifteenth with that great prognosticator, Phil Mickelson, finishing tied for thirty-third with nine other golfers. So who won? Michael Campbell. Who? For years Campbell has teetered between the recognition of one of the games best and just being another pretender who can't quite deliver. But there he was. He held off a late charge by Tiger Woods, matching Tiger with birdies when necessary, never wilting under the extreme heat of such dynamic competition.
He held aloft the prize, a beautiful silver trophy, kissing it time and time again. Had the Open been just a three round tournament, Goosen would have claimed the trophy. For that matter, had it been just a one round contest, Olin Browne and Rocco Mediate would have claimed a tie for victory and played another round to settle the matter. But it was four rounds of staying with it, hanging in there, never folding, fighting the pressure. Campbell's four rounds were consistent; 71, 69, 71, 69. He hovered around par and won with what was expected.
In this game of life what does God expect out of us? Faithfulness. Faith placed us into our relationship with Him through the blood of Christ. Faith sustains us every day as we hold fast to Him. Faith was cited by the Apostle Paul as the final key to fighting the good fight and finishing the course. (2 Timothy 4:7) Is it little wonder that Jesus, in giving John the great Revelation while John was on Patmos, said, "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." Revelation 2:10 What is expected may seem mundane, but faith, in Jesus' eyes, is excellence.
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