Since The Masters golf tournament has been in the news lately, here goes: A man had two tickets for the Masters, Saturday and Sunday.

He took two chairs and set them by the 18th green, front row. As he sits down, another man comes along and asks if anyone is sitting in the chair next to him.

“No”, he says, “this chair is empty.”

“This is incredible!” said the man. “Who in their right mind would have a chair like this, the biggest golfing event of the whole world, and not use it?”

He says, “Well, actually, the chair belongs to me.  My wife always would come with me, but she passed away. So, I brought her chair as a memory of her. This is the first Masters we haven’t been to together since we got married.”

“Oh… I’m sorry to hear that. That’s terrible. I guess you couldn’t find someone else, a friend or relative or even a neighbor to take the seat?”

The man shakes his head…

“No. They’re all at the funeral.”

I love golf.  I’ve loved it all my life.  I’ve had more fun times on the golf course and had more laughs than anyone could imagine.  I’ve laughed so hard I cried when a friend would hit a gosh-awful shot or someone would tell a golf joke.  I don’t remember ever crying on the course, though sometimes I felt like it after totaling my score.  I have shed a few, however, when watching on TV or reading about the game I love.

Ben Crenshaw, former Masters’ champ, and all around good guy from Texas played in his 44th and last Masters several years ago. His long time caddie, Carl Jackson was at his side. It was a tearful farewell for Crenshaw

A story from several years ago about Crenshaw and Carl moved me to tears. Jackson, who knows Augusta National like I know my way around a baptistery, had caddied for Crenshaw for decades at each Masters tournament. The two of them, Crenshaw and Carl, are as different as, well, black and white.  Crenshaw is white and Jackson is black.  Crenshaw is a Texan from the country club scene and Jackson, an Augusta native, took up caddying because he didn’t want to work in the cotton fields.

Like I said, Jackson has been Crenshaw’s caddie for 40 plus Masters, until Crenshaw’s retirement that year. Every year except the year 2000.  You see, that was the year Carl Jackson heard the dreaded “c” word.  At the age of 46, he was diagnosed with colon cancer.  There was a new treatment that would help, but it was too expensive.  At that time, Jackson said, “Let me go (to the grave), instead of running up a big bill my family was going to have to pay.”  A few minutes later, the phone was ringing.  Crenshaw was calling from Texas, with a Texas-sized heart, saying, do whatever it takes to get well.  He said he would cover the bills.

Said Carl Jackson: “He was standing there when I needed him.  That’s a brother.  That’s someone who loves me.”  Carl is now cancer free.  He is also free to love in return.  Said the caddie of the golfer, “Silver and gold, I have none, but I’ll give him what I’ve got.”

~Pastor Steve

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