The Way of an Eagle

by Bob Darden,
P. J. Richardson,
Robert Darden

 

 

 

Mike Sullivan

I was raised Baptist. I've got an aunt, my mom's sister, who was a Baptist missionary in Nigeria for a long time. Both sets of grandparents were Baptists. My mom led me to the Lord when I was about 5 or 6. I remember getting down on my knees and asking Jesus into my heart.
I grew up in the church until I was in high school, then I picked up golf. When I started working on the weekends on the golf course, I kind of got out of the church scene. I went to college and it was more of the same. I didn't do anything bad, but I certainly wasn't growing spiritually. I met me wife-to-be, Sandy at college and quit school after a year and a quarter. After we got married, I started playing on the mini-tours.
In time, I started going to church with Sandy. We both felt like it was important. We soon found out we weren't getting much out of the church we were going to. We felt like we weren't learning anything about the Bible. Instead, they told some nice stories about people doing good things.
After I qualified for the Tour and played a year or two, I talked to Don Pooley and told him how frustrated I was. He said, "you ought to come to the Bible study." At the time, I had this perception of the Bible study as being real charismatic. I'd heard some people had been put on the spot – and it wasn't anything I'd feel real comfortable doing. I wasn't willing to go and get put on the spot. But finally I went anyway.
That was about the time Larry Moody started coming and doing the study. Larry gave the Bible study a lot more credibility and for the first time, there was some consistency in the teaching. It wasn't just individual people sharing. I've always been pretty private and kind of close to the vest with everything, so I felt really uncomfortable about possibly getting into a situation where I'd have to share some of my feelings and things that were close to my heart. It's juts hard for me to do.
But not long after I started going to the Bible study, I decided I'd been drifting a long time and it was time to get some direction back, so my wife and I started attending a lot more regularity. We felt like our church was the Tour Bible study because that's where we were most of the time. We still went to church most of the time when we were home but I'd fall asleep a lot.
Finally, my wife's sister's husband, who was raised Baptist and had been going to the same church we'd been going to, decided, "It's time to move. My kids are getting close to high school age, and I want to get them in a good youth program." So he switched to a Baptist church. My wife's sister was baptized in the church. We went for the baptism and listened to the sermon that night and really enjoyed the preaching. Afterward, Sandy and I said, "we ought to start coming here."
So we started attending and went for 5 years: Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights. When Rebecca, our daughter, decided she wanted to be a candidate for baptism, we went forward with her and finally joined the church as well.
In the meantime, Larry had baptized my wife in Orlando at the Disney Open. There have been several baptisms down there over the years, including Loren Roberts.
I knew that it was by faith, not by works, that you're saved. Yet at the same time, I was always thinking, "Okay, I got mad out there, I banged a club, I wasn't a very good example, I wasn't a good witness today." And that would eat at me all the time. I was trying, basically to do it on my own.
My faith really took a major step several years ago when I was hurt. It caused me to think, "I don't quite have control of this situation." Then one afternoon in the summer of 1993, I sneezed and that was it. I had missed all winter, had gotten better and when I tried to raise back up after sneezing, I couldn't stand up. I was out another 4 months. I didn't have disability insurance for my back because I'd had back problems before and couldn't get coverage.
So there we were: no income, no disability, no nothing. Fortunately we had some money for retirement we were able to draw from.
It was my wife's faith that helped strengthen my faith during that time. She kept saying, "I've been praying about it and I just feel like the Lord's going to take care of us." This was a drastic departure from everything I'd known in the past. Before I'd think, "we need some money? Why, I'll go out and play better."
But now, I couldn't even walk around. I t was a tough time for me. I spent a lot of time praying and I spent a lot of time reading. And I finally said, "well, I worked out all I was suppose to work out. I did all of the stretching and all of the other stuff I was suppose to do. And I still couldn't keep myself well. God, if You want me to play golf again, I'll play. If You want me to do something else, then I'll have faith that You'll show me what else to do."
After that, I had a real peace. I thought that the rest of the summer of 1993 would be a long, miserable time. But, as it turned out, all of our needs were met. As for Sandy and me, our marriage grew closer stringer that ever. With Rebecca, our daughter, we became a much closer family. We realized you don't have to have money to enjoy things. I felt like my faith was tremendously strengthened, because I had to sit back and trust God was actually going to do what He said He was going to do and take care of us.
And I realized finally – trying on your own to be good won't cut it. You can try all you want to, and you're never going to measure up. You do the best you can, you fail, you ask forgiveness, repent and then go on. It was a big year for me in that respect, because of all the things that had been stumbling blocks and obstacles in the past. It just shattered them all.
Same goes for 1994. I was playing on a medical exemption, which it looked like I might not get for a while because of some circumstances. But I got the exemption at the last minute, so it has been a free ride ever since – almost. Winning the B.C. Open was an affirmation this is what God wanted us to do.

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