Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Byron Nelson

Work took me to Ft. Worth one day this week and as I drove past the Richland Hills church building I thought of Byron Nelson. He died a couple of weeks ago and a memorial service at Richland Hills where he was a member drew a large crowd, including many from the world of professional golf. By all accounts Byron Nelson was a man of character, a good man who loved his family and lived his faith. One of the quotes from the service stuck with me - "There may be some debate about who is history's greatest golfer, but there is no question at all about who was the greatest man who played golf."

On the evening of the day that he died, Dale Hanson did a special on the channel 8 news that included an interview taped with Byron on his 80th birthday. The subject of his faith came up and he said that he tried his best to live a faithful life so that he could go to heaven when he died. Hanson continued his tribute with numerous accounts of Nelson's generosity and good deeds and concluded with the observation that Nelson had undoubtedly earned his reward, although there was not much chance for someone like himself.

Hanson was wrong on both counts.

I have no doubt about Byron Nelson's faith or that his faith shaped his life and was the basis for the good he accomplished. Nor do I have any doubt that he faced his maker as an absolutely righteous man. But it was not because of any of the good works that he did. On his best day, Byron Nelson fell woefully short of the holy standard of God. His righteousness did not stem from his own goodness but from God's grace.

Dale Hanson has led an admittedly materialistic and often hedonistic life, yet on his worst day he has not been beyond the bounds of God's grace. He may not recognize it and likely does not believe it. He probably doesn't believe he deserves it and he would be correct - none of us deserves it - but there is nothing he can do that puts him beyond the bounds of God's grace. That is a message that he, and the world that he so much embodies, needs to hear.

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