Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bats, Balls and Drugs

I have been a Texas Rangers baseball fan since I was a kid. Because of the division they are in, many of their games do not start until 9:00 p.m. local time and, growing up, I had a little radio tucked under my pillow so I could listen to them play after I had to go to bed. Right now, probably the most well-known Rangers player is Josh Hamilton (though Michael Young is a close second). Early in his career, Josh became known as one of the most talented players in baseball because of his natural, physical talents. But Josh got himself lost in a world of drugs and alcohol and found himself out of the game. For all intents and purposes, his baseball career was over. But then, he was found by Jesus, got into rehab, beat back his addictions to drugs and alcohol, got his life back together, and found his way back to baseball, where he has since won an MVP title and played in two World Series. A couple of times, Josh has had some relapses. Each time, Josh has come forward publicly, confessed his relapse, taken responsibility for the problem, asked forgiveness and committed to redoubling his efforts against his addictions.

A few weeks ago, Josh had the first relapse (that we are aware of) in more than a year. He found himself in a bar where he had a couple beers, and then he called one of his teammates. Josh publicly confessed his relapse and, in a twelve minute speech, admitted his own responsibility and pleaded for patience and forgiveness. The general fan consensus was acceptance and a willingness to forgive. A few days later, a sports commentator wrote that fans are willing to forgive Josh Hamilton because of the color of his skin. And Texas Rangers fans across the region flew into an uproar. The commentator did not understand a very basic concept of life.

Proverbs 28:13 reads, "Whoever conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy" (HCSB). With Josh Hamilton, fans are willing to offer forgiveness because Josh doesn't attempt to hide his faults. He confesses them, takes responsibility for them, and then takes steps to ensure they don't happen again. One of the things that demonstrates Josh's efforts to beat back his addictions is that, after years of cocaine and numerous hard-drugs running through his veins, Josh felt the need to confess a couple beers. He didn't say, "Hey, it was only a couple beers. Lighten up!" He said, "I had a few beers. I shouldn't have done it. It was wrong and I'm sorry I let my fans down. I am going to do better."

One of the biggest mistakes we can make in life is to try to conceal our sins. When we try to hide our mistakes and keep people from finding out, it creates an attitude of paranoia in us that adds to the constant pressure we are under and makes us more susceptible to our weaknesses. When we hide the sin in our lives, we are much more likely to begin to accept that nothing is wrong as long as we don't get caught. Hiding sin creates two separate lives that we have to keep divorced from each other at all costs. But confessing sin, admitting what we have done and taking responsibility for it, breaks down those barriers which create dual identities. Confessing our sins relieves us from the pressure that comes with knowing the truth of Numbers 32:23 that warns us, "Be sure your sin will find you out" (NIV).

The thought of people finding out about our sins and mistakes may be scary. The thought of what hiding them does to us should be scarier. Be willing to own up to  your mistakes and take responsibility for them. By confessing them, you are much more likely to find mercy. 

Murder, Love, Leprosy, and Gratitude

Suggested Reading: Luke 17:11-19 One of the television shows that my wife and I used to enjoy watching together was Castle. It was a crime...