The Way of an Eagle

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

 

 

 

Morris Hatalsky

I am of Jewish heritage. It was mostly a culturally Jewish family, but we did acknowledge the high holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I was raised by a mother and a grandmother – my father died when I was two years old. In other words, I was raised by two Jewish mothers! I was still brought up being very proud of my Jewish faith. And that's the kind of way my life was led.
I grew up understanding that there were Jewish people and there were those we called, Gentiles – whom I equated with Christians. And I grew up having some strong prejudices because I was singled out as being a Jew. I received some very strong comments through my junior high school and high school days and defiantly received some prejudice because of my faith. But God works things out for the good, though little did I know it at the time, because I developed some very strong feelings about what I deemed to be hypocrisy
in the Christian faith. Still, I always had a feeling that there was a God.
I came to know the Lord through a golfing friend, Don Pooley. Don and I first met when we were in Southern California. We had known each other through the years of competition in junior golf and later college golf.
Meanwhile, golf was a vital part of my life. My identity was so tied into it that it was the god of my life. It really dictated my feelings toward myself, and it dictated my feelings toward other people. If I played well, I felt good about myself; if I played badly, I had a very low self-esteem. I was totally wrapped up in golf.
I finally got married. My wife, Tracy, had grown up Episcopalian, but she grew up with only an intellectual belief in Christ – she didn't have a relationship with Christ. Our understanding of our relationship was built on the premise, "If you're okay, I'm okay - there are different ways to come to know God." That way it was comfortable for our relationship.
There came a point when I went through a very difficult time in competing out on the Tour, and I started looking for answers to questions. I started asking myself deeper questions than just how to fix my golf game, questions like, "Is this my purpose in life?" Is chasing a little white golf ball what life's all about?"
There was an evolution of asking profound questions such as: Who am I? What am I? Where am I going? And why would I have my security and significance wrapped up in golf?
Through all this I was still friends with Don Pooley. Now Don was and is a very competitive person. He loves golf as much as I do. But he had a different perspective on God. He knew that I was Jewish; he respected that very much.
We would share our feelings and thoughts while on the courses and in the clubhouses. Basically – I shared about my Judaism and he shared about his Christianity. But when he did, he shared about the person of Jesus Christ, about a relationship with God.
One day he asked whether I was perfect, or whether I knew anybody that was perfect. I said, "no, not really." I had some tough times with that one, because I had a hard time with the word sin.
In time though, I came to grips with that. Then I asked him a big question: "you know, I grew up believing that Jesus was a good man, a good prophet, and a good teacher, like Isaiah, Moses and all of the great people – and I've just kind of put Him in that line. So why did He die on a cross?"
Don shared with me from Isaiah 53. I was very much into, at that particular time, my Jewish heritage, the Scriptures and what they said, and it really started coming alive to me in a way.
I suddenly realized that this prophecy in Isaiah 53 was written about seven hundred years before the actual event of the cross. There was substantial historical evidence to prove that this Jesus was who it was referring to. It wasn't something that just slipped into the Scriptures. The Jewish people had a history of being very meticulous in the way that they wrote their history. Don said, "well, He died on a cross to bridge the gap between a holy God and sinful man – ‘not your works, lest any man should boast' – as Paul says in Ephesians 2:9.
And at that moment, it made sense to me, because if God is a holy God, He is sovereign, omnipresent, omnipotent. His character in essence is holy, perfect, flawless, a perfect will. And if anything falls short of that, it is foreign to God. I came to grips with that.
But I must say I was really just like Saul: I was the persecutor – the verbal persecutor of what I thought Christianity was. Back then I saw a lot of hypocrisy because I wasn't focused so much on the person of Jesus Christ as I was focusing on those people that said they knew the person of Jesus Christ.
So for some years after that, Don and I continued our heated discussions. But the thing that probably spoke strongest to me and helped me more than anything else to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior was the fact that Don Pooley stuck to what he believed the truth was. And that was Jesus saying, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."(John 14:6) Don didn't waver from that, and yet he showed enough tolerance to be my friend even though I treated him poorly because of what I thought his faith was all about.
I was very, very strong-headed and indignant when it came to Christianity. I would dwell on what was happening with the Christian world at the time, such as the televangelism scandals. But because Don continued to be my friend, and because he accepted who I was, I was motivated to continue to read the Scriptures, to continue to investigate what the truth really is. It was probably because of his friend ship that I came to know the Lord. And that night I came to know the Lord was at a PGA Tour Bible study where Billy Graham was the speaker and there was about thirty to forty people in attendance – a pretty intimate group. It was, incidentally, the last time Reverend Graham was out on the Tour. But that night I accepted God's free gift.
Since that time I've tried to share a discerning spirit about what the good news of Jesus Christ is. I've tried to be vocal. I've been involved with many people's lives out here on the Tour. With some it has been a sowing process, and with others it has been a cultivating process, and with others it has been a reaping process.
It has taken me a long time, but I know it is God's business. I'm always available to talk, or listen!

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