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GUEST COLUMN: A tale of finding hope in the unseen

“Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6).

My friend Tom, a fine golfer and fellow professional, an all-around good guy by acclamation, likes to tell a story from his mini-tour days.

A mini-tour is a proving ground for journeymen, rabbits (someone chasing the dream) and the oh so lucky few who make it.

On this fine day, as he chased his dream and golf ball, Tom, with great form and misdirected force, struck his ball and watched as it flew toward a small island located in the lake. For some, this would be a mere disappointment and a penalty stroke but for a rabbit, saving a stroke is a serious dilemma. One stroke can make or break a dream.

Assessing the situation while computing the math, Tom elected to wade into the lake toward the island knowing he saw his golf ball. He determined the lake was shallow. Step by step, he discovered his judgment was incorrect. As he found himself waist deep in water, he knew he could not turn back. He pressed on holding his club above his head.

Finally, he climbed out of the water and made it to the small island. He gathered himself and prepared for a miraculous recovery shot. With newspaper headlines swirling in his head, Tom looked down to identify his ball before striking it.

As fate twists and turns, as stories are told and legends made, this fine day would write its own tale. But, the story begs questions. We chase our dreams, and then what? Surely, we think, the chase will yield goodness by the sweat of our own hand. Is goodness the sole domain of our success?

We are called to hope in the unseen. It is a difficult thing to do. The absence of something often proves the existence of it. We do not wish this to be true. It just is.

The unseen is never self-evident to the blind. We cannot discern truth without experiencing a lie. Light is not light without a knowledge of dark. We cannot know goodness without failure, mercy without pain. We cannot savor presence without absence, forever without death, faith without hope, hope without love.

My friend told me one time, as club professionals, we are all failures. We chased the dream and fell short. He was right. We chased and in our want, we were blind to God’s goodness pursuing our soul. Hope, amidst failure, opened our eyes to what was once hidden.

Vivid in my reflection, Tom’s story has a symmetry to its telling and ending. The picture in my mind of my friend wading into the water, filled with aspiration, determination and anticipation brings me great perspective and simultaneous laughter. Why? Because the ball did not belong to Tom.

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.