EDITOR'S NOTE: The Times Free Press is continuing a series of stories from readers about life experiences they attribute to divine intervention. We'll publish another each week as your stories continue to arrive. If you have a God Thing to share, email Life@timesfreepress.com, or mail to Life Department, Chattanooga Times Free Press, 400 E. 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403.
This week, Matt Thomas describes the rainbow connection he has with his dad.
It was Sunday, Aug. 17, 1997. That day marked the last day of competition for the golf season's final major championship, the PGA, held that year at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York.
By that time in his career, 33-year-old Davis Love III had already been widely acclaimed by the golfing world as the best player never to have won a major championship.
Tied for the lead after three rounds, Davis was in good position to possibly win that elusive first major title of his career. But certainly no one could have anticipated the way this story would unfold.
Keep in mind that Davis Love III had lost his dad, Davis Love Jr. (who had also been a professional golfer) in a 1988 plane crash. I recall his dad's name being mentioned by the TV announcers in the context of him not being around to see his son perhaps win his first major title.
By the time Davis teed off at the 18th hole in the final pairing, he had virtually sown up the victory leading by four shots. He launched his drive into the fairway, strolled to his ball and then hit his approach shot safely onto the green, where it came to rest 12 feet from the hole. The championship was his.
But what Davis Love III and the entire viewing audience were about to experience was something far more profound. As Davis stepped onto the 18th green, a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky. And the end of that rainbow was perfectly aligned with Davis' ball and the hole.
As Davis addressed the ball ready to strike his putt, announcer Jim Nantz said, "He has found the end of the rainbow." Davis oh-so-fittingly made the putt right into that rainbow's end for a birdie and a five-stroke victory, after which Nantz exclaimed, "That is what Love is all about!" It couldn't have been scripted any better. Nor could it have been orchestrated by man.
The gallery was stunned, and so were the TV announcers. And as I watched what happened on TV, I was as stunned as anyone. The gallery and the golfing world watching this knew the significance of the story of Davis and his dad and how much his dad would have wanted to see him win that tournament. Perhaps, by God's special grace and the rainbow's possible sign of that, he did get to see it.
I knew right then that this was something I would always remember. But at the time, I didn't totally understand why and that it was to serve as harbinger of a special miracle that would manifest into my own life.
Fast-forward to Oct. 19, 2004, just seven and a half months after I lost my dad to cancer.
It was a late Tuesday afternoon following some heavy thunderstorms we had that day, and I was driving Mom to her weekly Bible study at our church. On the way over there, I noticed against the deep indigo from the departing last storm in the eastern sky a big, beautiful rainbow.
I didn't say anything to Mom then, but as Davis Love's rainbow immediately flashed through my mind, I instantly knew what I was supposed to do.
As soon as we arrived at the church and I let Mom out of the car, I made a beeline to the cemetery on the hill above the church where my dad was laid to rest. Could this really be what I was thinking hoping!?
I walked up the small cemetery road to where I was even with our family plot located just down a gentle slope. I looked eastward, and sure enough, the end of that rainbow was perfectly aligned with Dad's resting place!
I stood there for the next five minutes just staring at it with awe and wonder until it faded away. I remembered Davis Love III and his dad's rainbow and knew I had just seen my dad's rainbow.
I contemplated its meaning as I drove homeward, knowing that there could be nothing but good signified by a rainbow. I already knew this one was forever etched in my mind and heart as a beacon of love and message of assurance pertaining to Dad.
Later that evening, one of Mom's friends brought her home from the Bible study. I stood there in the living room waiting to tell her what I had experienced. She came inside and asked how I was doing. I simply said, "Stunned."
I then described what happened with the rainbow and told her I thought it meant that Dad was OK and we were going to be OK. Mom just gave me a hug as if she knew Dad had, by God's special grace, sent a special message to me as Davis Love III's dad had been enabled to do for him. Unlike Davis Love Jr's rainbow that was seen by a large audience, Dad's rainbow was shown only to me. And I have shared this story with only a small number of special people in our lives.
To cap it off, Dad and I shared a love of Southern gospel music, and one of the songs we liked was titled "Rainbow of Love." How fitting is that?! It's just more proof that all this could not have been scripted or orchestrated by man.
I'm very proud to be the only person in the world who can call Slim Thomas Dad. So I share this treasured story in tribute to my dad who is out there, somewhere over the rainbow, waiting to meet me at heaven's gate, shake my hand and say, "Welcome home, son." That day can't come soon enough.
— Matt Thomas