A tale of find­ing hope in the un­seen

Rome News-Tribune - - RELIGION - DECK CHEATHAM GUEST COLUMNIST Deck Cheatham has been a golf pro­fes­sional for more than 40 years. He lives with his fam­ily in Dal­ton. Con­tact him at pgadea­con@gmail.com.

“Surely, good­ness and mercy will fol­low me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for­ever.” (Psalm 23:6).

My friend Tom, a fine golfer and fel­low pro­fes­sional, an all-around good guy by ac­cla­ma­tion, likes to tell a story from his mini-tour days.

A mini-tour is a prov­ing ground for jour­ney­men, rab­bits (some­one chas­ing the dream) and the oh so lucky few who make it.

On this fine day, as he chased his dream and golf ball, Tom, with great form and mis­di­rected force, struck his ball and watched as it flew to­ward a small is­land lo­cated in the lake. For some, this would be a mere dis­ap­point­ment and a penalty stroke but for a rab­bit, sav­ing a stroke is a se­ri­ous dilemma. One stroke can make or break a dream.

As­sess­ing the sit­u­a­tion while com­put­ing the math, Tom elected to wade into the lake to­ward the is­land know­ing he saw his golf ball. He de­ter­mined the lake was shal­low. Step by step, he dis­cov­ered his judg­ment was in­cor­rect. As he found him­self waist deep in wa­ter, he knew he could not turn back. He pressed on hold­ing his club above his head.

Fi­nally, he climbed out of the wa­ter and made it to the small is­land. He gath­ered him­self and pre­pared for a mirac­u­lous re­cov­ery shot. With news­pa­per head­lines swirling in his head, Tom looked down to iden­tify his ball be­fore strik­ing it.

As fate twists and turns, as sto­ries are told and legends made, this fine day would write its own tale. But, the story begs ques­tions. We chase our dreams, and then what? Surely, we think, the chase will yield good­ness by the sweat of our own hand. Is good­ness the sole do­main of our suc­cess?

We are called to hope in the un­seen. It is a dif­fi­cult thing to do. The ab­sence of some­thing of­ten proves the ex­is­tence of it. We do not wish this to be true. It just is.

The un­seen is never self-ev­i­dent to the blind. We can­not dis­cern truth with­out ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a lie. Light is not light with­out a knowl­edge of dark. We can­not know good­ness with­out fail­ure, mercy with­out pain. We can­not sa­vor pres­ence with­out ab­sence, for­ever with­out death, faith with­out hope, hope with­out love.

My friend told me one time, as club pro­fes­sion­als, we are all fail­ures. We chased the dream and fell short. He was right. We chased and in our want, we were blind to God’s good­ness pur­su­ing our soul. Hope, amidst fail­ure, opened our eyes to what was once hid­den.

Vivid in my re­flec­tion, Tom’s story has a sym­me­try to its telling and end­ing. The pic­ture in my mind of my friend wad­ing into the wa­ter, filled with as­pi­ra­tion, de­ter­mi­na­tion and an­tic­i­pa­tion brings me great per­spec­tive and si­mul­ta­ne­ous laugh­ter. Why? Be­cause the ball did not be­long to Tom.

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