Today is one of those rarest of days for professional golfers. It's a day of fun and relaxation before the battle begins tomorrow at The Masters. Today is the Par 3 Tournament at Augusta National, where there is lots of laughter, legends of days gone by teeing it up with today’s stars, and even young children of players serving as caddies (while taking an occasional putt for their dads). It is a tradition that is both heartwarming and fun—giving players some much-needed mental and emotional respite before the pressure of the year’s first major. Unfortunately, life doesn't usually offer us any warning before troubles come our way. Perhaps that's why the storms of life so often catch us off guard. As Peter reminded his readers, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). He warned not just of storms but of “fiery trials”! These trials don’t usually arrive after we have been given a break to prepare and gear up for them. Nor do they come with advance storm warnings like some kind of spiritual weather forecast. The reality is that we should not be surprised when trials come. In a sense, it's the natural course of things—the direct byproduct of living life in a world badly broken by sin. If anything, we should be surprised when we escape the dark seasons of life, for they sometimes feel more like the rule than the exception! In those stormy seasons, however, we learn. We learn the lessons of trial and struggle that grow us and make us strong. We learn the lessons of interdependence within the body of Christ that reminds us that we are not alone. And, of first importance, we learn that the grace of God truly is sufficient for all of these things. It is comforting to know that, though we may not have advance warning or preparation for the storms of life, we can come out of them stronger in our faith. And that is where we find the calm after the storm.   Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain