Links Daily Devotional

True Greatness, Part 6

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-4, ESV)

Consider Webb Simpson at this year’s U.S. Open. After 36 holes, he was a 100-to-one to win.

Consider Jack Fleck. Fifty-seven years ago in a field at Olympic that included Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, and Tommy Bolt, Fleck was beyond odds to win. In practice rounds, where he played an average of 44 holes a day, he couldn’t break 80!

I had the good fortune to play with Jack Fleck when I first played the PGA Tour in 1959. We became friends because of our common love for golf and God. I picked his brain about the ’55 Open. He had always been a good ball striker, but putting was his nemesis. Jack said he knew he was the last pick of everyone’s list of potential winners before he teed off. Even in the Monday playoff, no one gave him a chance head-on against Hogan, the greatest player of the era.

But from last in everyone’s expectations, Jack moved into a tie for first after a birdie on the 72nd hole. The next day, he pulled off what some think is the greatest upset ever. He defeated Hogan, the four-time U.S. Open champion, who would never win a major again.

So what does this have to do with “whoever humbles himself like this little child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven”?

Think with me a moment as to what greatness Jesus might have seen in the little child.

Yes, certainly as he said, humility.

But maybe, too, it was unwavering trust. 

The disciples wanted a title, stature in the new kingdom Jesus would set up. Two thought so highly of themselves that they offered to serve at his right and left hand. At the end, when the pressure heightened, they fell. Then, after their humiliation, they began to ascend. Even as Jesus had done. Jesus trekked downward to Gethsemane, then further down, to crucifixion and death. He modeled the humility he asked of his disciples and God highly exalted him and gave him name above all names.

His humility was based on unquestioning trust in his Father.

Golf, as it often does, had humbled Jack Fleck before he teed off that Thursday at Olympic. Similar stories can be told of other men of like faith—including the newest champion, Webb Simpson. These men, as well as the others who have gone on to win from far behind at Olympic, were unlikely U.S. Open champions.

There’s no guarantee that humble, unquestioning trust in the One who made us will lead to a U.S. Open championship. But as Jesus promised, it will lead to greatness of character if we follow His command to “do as I have done…” (John 13:15)

Jim Hiskey

June 21, 2012

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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday through Friday at www.linksplayers.com.