Ben Crane stood over his ball, stopped, and looked over at me through his sunglasses.
“Dude, I just thought of a great idea for the article,” he said, in the middle of stroking putts during his practice round on Tuesday.
“What is it?” I asked, standing behind the ropes and chuckling at the irony of it all. Here was a PGA Tour player practicing for what he would later tell me is one of his favorite tournaments of the year—the Wells Fargo Championship—and he’s standing over a putt thinking about a feature story for Sports Spectrum magazine.
“I’ll tell you on the next tee,” he said, looking back down at his putt.
I interviewed Ben on the driving range before his practice round but didn’t expect to talk to him again. He graciously gave me his time on the driving range—talking about everything from the depths of the Bible to the goofy helmet (see below) he wears in his videos—and I was solely following him for one reason: to watch him play golf.
Yet here we were. I wasn’t going to complain.
“Walk with me,” Ben said as we proceeded to the fifth hole, continuing our interview from before.
We stood on the tee box. It was late in the day, his playing partners left, and there were only a handful of people in the gallery—which made it just Ben, his caddie, Joel Stock, and I, practically alone during a beautiful evening on one of the Carolina’s finest courses.
“The number one goal in life,” Ben said, explaining the concept he wanted me to include in the article, “is dependence on God. I learn that…then I re-learn it.”
As we walked up the fairway, he continued to tell me about the importance of depending on God—how he made that his theme for Masters week, how he’s trying to get the people he mentors to understand the exact same thing, how a book he’s reading continues to challenge him in that regard.
We didn’t talk a whole lot more until the end of the round. I kept my distance, not wanting to be the reason that he wasn’t adequately prepared for the first round on Thursday—because a shaggy-haired sports writer kept bothering him about his faith.
But on our walk to the No. 7 tee—he probably doesn’t even remember this—Ben looked at me and said, “You’ve gotta be getting thirsty. I’m sure there’s water in the cooler you can take.”
I think I responded with something stupid, like the number of Cokes I downed that day at the media tent. But whatever. I just talk sometimes.
By that time, Ben had joined up with a golfer from Georgia—Brian Harman, I think—who had speakers in his bag softly playing country music, which I thought was kind of cool and an essential tidbit to include in this column. Again, I just talk.
But as both of them teed off, I remember looking at the cooler of water and thinking about everything Ben said a couple holes before.
God is like water, I thought to myself.
If I went much longer without water, I would continue to grow more and more thirsty. I may continue to try to quench my thirst with other things, but in the long run it wouldn’t satisfy. I would still need water. By the dryness of my mouth and weakness in my body, I would be reminded of my need for water—my dependence for water.
God is like water.
You can try to quench your longing for fulfillment with other things—money, job, family, friends, fun, etc.—but in the long run, they won’t satisfy. And God will remind you that they don’t satisfy by the emptiness you feel. By the dryness of your mouth and weakness in your body, He’ll remind you that you need to depend on Him.
There’s nothing wrong with being dependent on something. It’s freeing. When I’m dependent on God, I don’t have to worry about being in control. God is in control, and His plan—though I may not always understand it—is better anyway. It makes sense.
“Like Romans says,” Ben told me earlier on the driving range, “the more you understand who you are without the Christ, the more you love Christ and understand His grace, truth, and forgiveness.”
God is like water. Ben Crane taught me that.
So I opened the lid.
And I took one.
Look for a feature story about Ben Crane in an upcoming issue of Sports Spectrum. Stephen Copeland is a staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum magazine. His column tackles sports and faith from another angle, whether it’s humorous, personal or controversial. Follow him on Twitter-@steve_copeland or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.