Friday, January 25, 2013
You Can Be A Hero Again—Carolyn Wilker
Recently in the news, a long-standing sports champion admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs for years in order to win his races. I’m not going to name the man, because this kind of cheating is not new. He is not the first one who has done such a thing, even knowing the rules and the possible consequences. And because, if the confession is heart-felt—which only God and the man know for sure—he may have a second chance, which we all want when we make a mistake.
If I am to believe what I’ve heard and read on the news, the man has made many enemies and sued countless people in order to keep his secret. It had become a complicated affair.
This kind of cheating has happened, sadly, at national and international sports events, including the Olympics. It was so important to win, in fact, that these competitors flouted the possibility that their cheating would be found out. And when it happens, it’s world news. Fortunately, there are still many athletes who play by the rules and can be proud of their performance.
If the person confessing falls hard, so do those who have followed him, or looked up to him. After the disappointment, people ask, “Why would he do that?” The followers have become the judges too. Thou shalt not’s fly in the cheater’s face for he has done wrong and should have known better.
How much harder it must be for a public figure whose name and actions are practically a household name, when wrongful actions and lies become public knowledge.
And yet, who of us, privy to that news, are free of temptation ourselves? Our actions may be less public, but it doesn’t mean that no one is watching. Instead, it will be our children and those who look up to us.
Back to the fallen sports hero. The talk show host, upon hearing the confession, probes deeper and asks hard questions. Yet, at the end she declares that the man can be a hero again.
How could she say that? Certainly the man must pay some sort of penalty. Would the sports body or International Olympic Committee give this errant competitor the same punishment as his teammates, or more, since this man was the leader? The fallen hero has said, on national television, no less, that his punishment was life, while others got off with less.
A reporter accused, saying this confession was planned; he questioned the sincerity of the man.
Then I wonder if the man was tired of living the lies, and I ask myself, does he truly want forgiveness.
I’ll borrow an analogy that I’ve never forgotten, from our pastor, Rev. James Bindernagel in a sermon some years ago. Imagine putting all your wrongful actions into a bag, rowing out into a deep lake and dropping the sack overboard, letting it go entirely. It would be impossible to gather the contents again. They are gone for good.
What if that judge and jury were God himself, offering to take on our heavy load of sin? It’s already been done for us in that bag dropped to the bottom of the deep lake. It’s like that when we ask God to forgive our sin. In Acts 13:38 of Scriptures, we read, “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”
Just as Jesus forgave countless people of their sins when they asked, this man, too, has a chance, if he asks God with a contrite heart, even as he bears the punishment—including legal action. Perhaps then he can be a hero again.
While we read and hear in the news of such fiascos, ultimately, we are still responsible for our own actions. I’m glad of forgiveness. That’s some of the best news going. Better than anything else I can think of.
Author of Once Upon a Sandbox
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