Vol. 7, No. 3
~ Page 4 ~
The scene is the 1991 U.S. Open. The place is Hazeltine National Golf Course, just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The day is peaceful, calm and nice. A gorgeous summer day.
From far out on the horizon, the front wave of a bank of gray clouds rushes swiftly overhead within minutes. Turbulent skies blacken and boil. Swirling banks of electricity collect overhead. Lightning is spotted. A golfer's worst nightmare.
Storm sirens soon blast as a fierce thunderstorm blows in, threatening the safety of one of the largest single-day crowds in the history of professional golf.
Forty thousand spectators scramble for any makeshift covering. Anything will work. A refreshment stand. An umbrella. A tree. Anything.
A group of spectators seeks shelter under a thirty-foot willow tree near the eleventh tee to keep from being drenched. Wisely, an official asks them to find another spot elsewhere. It is just too dangerous to be under a tall tree with lightning spotted. A few people disperse. A few stay.
The storm heightens and lightning strikes a tree behind the tenth green, splitting its trunk in half, stripping back the bark like a peeled banana. A visible reminder of the storm's fury and power is recorded for all to see.
Then a minute later--boom!--another lightning bolt strikes. This time it is the tall willow tree. A dozen bodies topple like bowling pins. The noise is outrageous, likened to a series of M-80 firecrackers exploding.
"All I heard was a boom, boom, like gunshots," said spectator Don Lindley. "Then, all those people fell like bowling pins." Six men got up. Six remained dazed on the ground. One died. With his hands still in his pockets.
One of the survivors recalled, "Somebody said it would be just our luck if lightning hit this one" (Steven J. Lawson, "Lightning Rod in the Storm," When All Hell Breaks Loose, Navpress, 23-24).
1. The taller we grow in the spiritual realm, the more likely we are to draw "lightning." "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12).
2. Sometimes a child of God suffers just because he is "the tallest tree on the course." "So the governors and satraps sought to mind some charge against Daniel...but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, 'We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God" (Daniel 6:4-5; cf. 6:6ff; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:3, 10).
3. A "lightning strike" may be The Father's means of testing and proving our faith. "...My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?" (Hebrews 12:5b-9; cf. 1 Peter 1:7).