The Down Times

Steve Stricker is one of my favorite golfers, partly because he isn’t a bomber, hitting the ball for miles and miles, and partly because of his calm demeanor. I have constantly heard comments from announcers and PGA players alike as to how respected and liked he is on the tour. Several years ago, it appeared that Stricker’s career was going to take off, especially when he won a World Golf Championship event against one of the toughest fields of competitors possible—the top 64 players in the world.

Then, just as quickly, it all went away. He lost his swing and struggled to regain the magic of that winning weekend. It was as much of a mystery as it was a frustration, and Stricker plummeted like a rock down the world standings. Still, he kept playing and kept working… but nothing seemed to work. Then, a couple of years ago, in the winter time in Stricker’s Wisconsin home, he set up an old trailer in a field and spent the snowy winter months just pounding balls out of that trailer. He worked and worked and worked—and got his swing back. He persevered through the down times, and is now once again one of the top players in the world. In a post-round interview Steve told of the struggles of that down time, and the lessons he learned from it.

The fact is that we learn very few lasting lessons from the easy times of life. It is the pain and difficulty and discomfort of the down times of struggles that grow our lives and our character. While we seem to work as hard as possible to avoid problems and embrace ease, there is very little to be learned through life’s easy moments. It is far more likely that we will learn lasting lessons and values from our failures than from our successes. So, hang in there. Learn and grow… and see what God can do through the down times. As James put it, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12). There can be incredible value in the lessons learned in the down times of life.

Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain