If I could spend four days anywhere in the world, these would be my top picks, in reverse order:
#5-Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
#3-Lake Louise, Canada
#2-Anywhere in Hawaii
#1-Augusta Georgia, sleeping, if necessary, in the lawnmower shed, during the Masters
I love the Masters. I do not like the politics and sometimes defiant backwardness of the Masters Club. But I love everything about the history, lore, and magic of the tournament played there each year. It is the greatest golf tournament in the world. I was there one year. On that week I lost my permission to ever again complain to God about anything.
This year the Masters outdid itself. God said to the angels, “Watch. I’ve been preparing this one a long time.”
Bubba Watson won the Masters. Oh, happy day! There is so much to like about Bubba Watson.
*He’s never had a swing coach. Ever.
*He’s never had a sports psychologist.
*He hits the ball further than I can run.
*He enjoys putting himself in positions where he’s forced to hit previously unimagined shots
*He cries ugly when he wins
*He admits that his nerves get the better of him almost every tournament
*He buttons the top button of his shirt, just because he can
*He loves Jesus with an innocent, playful and contagious faith
*He hangs out with the most fun and goofy group on the entire PGA tour. Hands down.
I’ve always thought the way a cynical and smug post-Christian culture would best have a chance at responding to the Gospel would be through Christ followers who were less worried about their “testimony” and more intent on living in authenticity, love, grace, humor, innocent absurdity and audacity. Non-believers expect us to try to look better behaved than them. It doesn’t impress them. They usually imagine it’s just an externally manufactured show. But someone more outrageously fun and funny, more disarmingly playful than them, without a single agenda to manipulate, that freaks people out. That can cause folk to reassess their lives.
Bubba Watson leads such a group on the PGA tour. His bible study on the road is filled with some of the coolest, funnest, funniest, goofiest, delightful, genuine, kind golfers on tour. They are contagious. Almost everyone on the tour enjoys them and wants to hang out with them. Believers and non-believers. Reporters flock around them. Fans chat it up with them. They are on Twitter often. They film themselves golfing through a course they created in their hotel lobby.
In their free time, after practice rounds, they deal with tension by making absurd and geeky music videos. The videos are so embarrassingly absurd, they are hilarious! These handsome, talented, wealthy stars making great fun of themselves.
I recently watched one of the players in that group, Ben Crane, so winsomely and naturally talk about God after winning a tournament that the golf announcer was genuinely disarmed and laughing along with him, not wanting it to end. It was great television, great life. I’m watching more and more athletes able to express themselves in such unforced and unrehearsed delight.
Its what I always dreamed could happen. That we could talk about Him in such a way, that we could live with Him in such a way, that instead of interviewers having to endure us, they instead couldn’t wait to interview us, because we were some of the most delightful, engaging, relevant, insightful and meaningful people they’d ever interview.
Almost immediately after he won, standing on the green, there they were-his Bible study buddies. The brilliant golf stars and music video goofs who have fallen deeply in love with Jesus…and each other. There was Ben Crane, Ricky Fowler, Aaron Baddeley, Hunter Mahan, and many of the others-hugging, laughing, crying and playing like kids who’d just discovered what balloons filled with helium can do to your voice.
I honestly don’t even think they have a plan. I don’t think this is their “evangelism technique”. I think they’re just being them in Christ, loving others and almost unconsciously letting the joy and pure goodness of Christ to come out. I hope they never figure it out. Because it might change and become forced. Someone might try to market it and turn it into another 501C3.
We’ve been endeavoring to model and teach this way of life, Bill Bruce and I. And we’re finding more and more each year, who are taking the risk to trust to believe God enjoys it more than we do.
Meanwhile, I just want to emulate Bubba and his buddies everywhere I go.
No, I want more than that. I want somehow that one of them would read this…and someday invite me to hang out with them. For they are heroes of mine. Not because they are great golfers. But because they have figured out what love looks like when Jesus is trusted.
Rock on boys.
John, one of the three amigos, part of the ever-growing tribe of grace.