Links Daily Devotional

The Winning Attitude, Part 4

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus… (1 Thessalonians 5:18, KJV)

My daughter Michelle and I invited Roy Clark to walk with us on Wednesday at this year’s Masters. His first. We were greeted with a soft breeze and a sky with nothing but shades of blue. The fairways were green, firm and barren of divots from outside the ropes.

Roy, Michelle’s writing coach, didn’t want to miss an inch, so we walked almost every hole from tee-to-green. Seven hours later we arrived back to our car, exhausted. Before we could open our doors, Roy pulled Michelle and me together. “Thank you both,” Roy said, smiling. “You just helped fulfill one of the hundred greatest experiences of my life.”

I chuckled, happy, but thinking, Today isn’t even a day of the competition.

Every golfer who makes it to Augusta seems to have a memorable experience. This was one for Michelle and me.

Another such experience happened en route to the tournament on a Sunday, the final day of the tournament in 1997. It was just before noon. I was fighting my way through traffic trying to get to the course before the 1996 U.S. Open champion Steve Jones teed off.

I sped by a blind man hitchhiking.

I was struck with guilt.

I can’t do this. I saw a left turn and whipped a U, hoping someone didn’t pick him up before I got there. As I drove near I saw him standing at the same corner with his white cane in one hand and the thumb of his other hand in the air.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“The Cracker Barrel to have some lunch.” He laughed.

My plans to meet Steve Jones at Augusta National got halted by three hours as I sat at the table with Steve Hoffman, a man totally blind in his left eye and only light perception in his right, with mannerisms like that of the famous blind musician, Ray Charles. Steve didn’t play, but he did at one time tune pianos. “I loved the people I met,” he said.

A man of faith, Steve told me he’d been blind from birth. “I don’t ever notice I’m blind,” he said. “I don’t even think about it.”

“You don’t even wish you could see like other people?” I asked.

“I don’t want to be able to see. I’m happy where I am.” I rocked back at his words. “I want to wait and see the Lord Jesus Christ the first thing when I die.”

“You’re thankful you’re blind?” I asked.

“Yes, I am,” he said. “Yes, sir, brother Jim. I am very thankful. Yes, I am.”

We have kept in touch over the past 16 years. A couple of years later I had the pleasure of taking him to his first Masters and introducing him to Steve Jones. After leaving the course, Steve Hoffman said, “Now I’ve seen it.” He laughed.

I’ve heard people say they are always happy. Steve may be such a person. “I’m hardly ever in a bad mood,” he said, like a student stating two plus two equals four.

I chatted with him just before writing the article to ask him if it was okay to do this story about him. He was cheerful. I asked him what he was going to do the rest of the day. “I’m going swimming, then go out and eat at Shell’s Restaurant.”

“What will you have for lunch?” I asked.

“I might have tilapia with French fries, vegetables and cole slaw.”

It was time for us to say goodbye. “Do you want to pray?” I asked.

“Our heavenly Father,” he began immediately, “I thank you that we have been together, you, me and Jim. Thank you for our little talk. Thank you for our fellowship and that you meet our needs according to your will. Help us to grow spiritually. Help us to glorify and learn about you, Lord. In your Name we pray. Amen.

Steve Hoffman, like the One He longs to see, a model of cheer…

Blind, but thankful.

Jim Hiskey

April 22, 2013

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