If you google "Tiger Woods" right now, you will get around 40 million returns and over 7,000 news articles.
I'm pretty sure this isn't the kind of popularity he desires right now. The mainstream media is (as expected) executing the typical "pile on" maneuver and reporting on anything they can get their hands on, and if you're like me, you're ready for this story to run its course.
Of course, it won't anytime soon. We'll be treated to headliner stories and sordid details that the generally morbid population feeds on like sharks in frenzy. We'll get theories, speculations, and allegations that may go on for weeks - even months.
Until, that is, somebody else in the limelight pulls a different bigger-than-life train wreck that turns into the next menu item for TMZ and all manner of gossip-loving folks who love to read about failures so they can feel better about themselves.
But it should be different for Christians. While it may be virtually impossible for us to escape the story, rather than judging or condemning, as Christians, we should focus on what God can teach us through Tiger's transgressions.
So…what can we take from the saddening saga of the Woods family?
First, look up. Our personal failures and spiritual breakdowns so often happen as a result of not keeping our focus on Jesus Christ. Here's the way the writer of Hebrews puts it:
Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won't let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete (Hebrews 12:1-2).
I have no clue as to Tiger's spiritual condition, nor is it my place to evaluate or judge since I don't know him - I haven't even met him. But this story reminded me that if I take my eyes off of Jesus, I'm headed for a crash that involves a lot more than a fire hydrant and a tree.
Second, look around. There are people everywhere who carry a load of loneliness, emptiness, and even depression because their deceptive worldview tells them that contentment and happiness can be found through something material. Do we really need another story like this to be reminded that all the money, fame, success, and possessions in the universe still do not come close to providing a real and satisfying life? God created life, so doesn't it follow that life without a relationship with Him is pretty, well, lifeless?
There was a king named Solomon who lived thousands of years ago who had more bank and bling than anyone has or probably ever will. He went on a party journey for quite some time to see if he could find contentment and happiness with things here on earth. In fact, this is what he wrote:
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure (Ecclesiastes 2:10).
In the end, he found himself in a darker place than he ever imagined and he came to the conclusion that without God everything is "meaningless." Why? Here was his reasoning:
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
What Solomon is saying is that there is a "God-shaped hole" in each and every one of us and trying to fill a spiritual void with a thing or an experience is an absolute waste of time.
But what isn't a waste of time is the pursuit of God. Here's the promise from Jesus Christ:
"Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends" (Revelation 3:20).
This "meal" He is referring to is a spiritual feast that no earthly possession or experience can rival. If you've trusted Christ, you already know this, but again, please look around at all the people that are desperately looking to fill the eternity-sized empty space in their hearts. What they want is what Tiger Woods wants and it is what you have found: Jesus.
Don't keep this great discovery to yourself - knock it off the tee like you were playing for your life and the lives of your friends…because you are!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
This story is obviously not going away for a while, so be sure to use this juggernaut story to tie deeper discussions of happiness, fulfillment, and how you have found the answer to these deep human desires into your everyday conversations with your friends who don't know Christ.
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15).
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money" (Matthew 6:24).
"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).