The Way of an Eagle
by Bob Darden,
P. J. Richardson,
I grew up in a Southern Baptist Christian home. I attended University Heights Baptist Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma as early as I can remember, we went there. I was married by a Baptist preacher, and my wife Pam and I are currently members of a Southern Baptist Church.
As a youngster, around the age of 9 or 10, I made a public profession of faith, although I probably didn't realize what I had done until I was somewhere around the age of 13. I feel like sometimes when you're 9 or 10 you make a public profession because you look up there and think, "I ought to do this because my best friend is up there doing it." You don't really do it for the right reasons you do it because of peer pressure. It wasn't until I was about 13 that I knew the reasons why I had done it so I did it again, but in my own way.
I was married at an early age 19 and I married my high school sweetheart, whom I also attended Sunday school with. I remember our pastor talking to us and saying, "how many times can you rededicate your life to Jesus Christ?" I think that was probably my third time! Pastors must want to hear it again, especially before you get married.
But Pam and I made that commitment to each other, and we've been married 27 years now in 1995. I honestly believe that our marriage couldn't have survived without our relationships with Christ. This is a very volatile business, and like a lot of professional sports, there's a lot of temptation out there. If God hadn't been my foundation, I probably would have faltered many times. Not that I haven't, but He is so forgiving. I don't want to keep asking Him for forgiveness every year. Fortunately, I haven't had to do that.
At one time, I would have said that it is harder being a Christian on the Tour than in regular life, especially without really understanding how God works. What I've had to understand since then is that He often sets us up to fail, because we learn a lot more from our failures than we learn from our successes.
The great thing about having a personal relationship with Christ is that it builds. It never really goes away. You may not build on it for a while, but it stays there solid as a rock. You just keep putting a little more clay on it each time and it gets larger and larger.
I think now at 45, I'm really starting to grow more. I don't feel like I've been the spiritual leader of my family, which I really should have been. I think that my wife has been more of the spiritual leader. She has had to stay very dedicated through her wives Bible studies and things, because I think our wives tend to get pushed off into the shadows of a pro career. So we try to involve ourselves more in the things of the faith. We try to spend more of our time with Christian friends than non-Christian friends, although we have a lot of non-Christian friends.
I've never been comfortable with being an evangelist, so to speak, but I'm finding myself getting more comfortable with sharing my joy with people around me. For instance, people often say, "I can't believe you've been on the Tour for so long. How do you do it?" I tell them, "I believe that God has a plan for me and I juts leave it in His hands every year." Of course, I wish He'd quit making it so hard! If He wants me to stay out here, I wish He'd let me know by April every year instead of running it out to August or September! Then again, maybe that's His way of keeping my eyes open.
I think probably the most satisfying thing to me about this life is that my 2 kids have grown up to be Christians. My son, who was 19 in 1994, has the most marvelous disposition and love for Jesus. My daughter grew up a little bit more rebellious, but now she's active in a church in Dallas. Not that that's the answer just to get up and go to church on Sunday mornings but you've got to make the first step. I'm so thrilled and I give my wife all the credit.
I'll say this and I've said it over and over I married absolutely as well as I could. My wife is wonderful. God had it in my plan at an early age I guess, because I found a sweetheart. I think you need a wife with a strong backbone when on the Tour, because I'll tell you what: We don't treat them well at times. I'll admit that right out. I don't abuse my wife of course I never would. But I think I abuse her in the sense of the stress I probably impart to her from what I do. I have to apologize a lot and immediately "Honey, I'm sorry I bit your head off because I'm unhappy with the way things are going on the golf course." And I love her very much, she's a dandy!
Still, along the way, God's had to call me down a few times. I used to have a temper on the golf course and my mouth well, I said a few expressions that would have made sailors blush. I'm never happy with myself when I do that. I recently read The Screwtape Letters, and I'm finally learning a little about how the devil works! Larry Moody gave me that book and I later told him, "that's the hardest reading I've ever done in my life."
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