Joel Osteen, in his book Your Best Life Now (New York: Warner Faith, 2004), p. 11-12, tells the following story:
Years ago, a famous golfer was invited by the king of Saudi Arabia to play in a golf tournament. He accepted the invitation, and the king flew his private jet over to the United States to pick up the pro. They played golf for several days, and enjoyed a good time. As the golfer was getting on the plane to return to the United States, the king stopped him and said, “I want to give you a gift for coming all this way and making this time so special. Anything you want. What could I get you?”
Ever the gentleman, the golfer replied, “Oh, please; don’t get me anything. You’ve been a gracious host. I’ve had a wonderful time. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The king was adamant. He said, “No, I insist on giving you something so you will always remember your journey to our country.”
When the golfer realized that the king was resolute, he said, “Okay, fine. I collect golf clubs. Why don’t you give me a golf club?”
He boarded the plane, and on his flight back home, he couldn’t help wondering what kind of golf club the king might give him. He imagined that it might be a solid gold putter with his name engraved on it. Or maybe it would be a sand wedge studded with diamonds and jewels. After all, this would be a gift from the oil-rich king of Saudi Arabia.
When the golfer got home, he watched the mail and the delivery services every day, to see if his golf club had come yet. Finally, several weeks later, he received a certified letter from the king of Saudi Arabia. The U.S. professional thought that rather strange. Where’s my golf club? he wondered. He opened the envelope, and to his surprise, inside he discovered a deed to a five-hundred-acre golf course in America.
Sometimes kings think differently than you and I think. And friend, we serve the King of kings. We serve the Most High God, and His dream for your life is so much bigger and better than you can even imagine. It’s time to enlarge your vision!
I have never heard this story and wonder whether the story is true. Joel Osteen preaches a gospel of prosperity. In his book, he says that God wants to show Christians his special favor. God’s special favor is manifested in his blessings: God wants to increase what we have; he wants to give us more. The story above is an example of what God can do.
But what if the story is not true? What if this pro never received the deed for a golf course and the King of Saudi Arabia never gave such a gift?
After I read this story, I stopped reading the book. I want to find out whether the story is true, for if the story is false, then why bother reading the rest of the book.
I am asking your help. Do you know whether this story is true? Do you know who this golfer was? If you have any idea about the veracity of this story, please let me know.
This story seems to be an urban legend. Read an update to this story by clicking here.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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