Monday, January 11, 2010

The Repentance of Mark McGwire

Today Mark McGwire released a statement confirming what most baseball fans have assumed for the last decade: He used steroids.
"I have the chance to do something that I wish I was able to do five years ago. I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come. It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected. I used steroids during my playing career and I apologize."
So why bother coming clean about it? If in his own words people have suspected this about him, what's the point?

We're not in the midst of some steroid-mania in professional sports as we were a few years ago, and McGwire is just now going to start his new job as the hitting coach for the St Louis what's the big deal?

The big deal, is these things eat at you.
“I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era. I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids. I had good years when I didn’t take any and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good years when I took steroids and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly sorry.
I don't care to judge the sincerity level of his apology. Some may.

But what I see here is a pretty clear parallel to our own guilt and repentance before God.

Sure, most people already assumed that McGwire used steroids. This didn't really come as a big surprise. 

But do we really believe that God is surprised by our mistakes? Our own lapses in judgement? Our own "sins?" Or is he already well aware of what we've done, and is just waiting for us to realize our need to come to him to be made whole again? In keeping this information to ourselves for so long, and refusing to ask forgiveness, what real "secret" are we keeping?

Everything eventually comes to light. Whether we'd like it to or not. Whether in this life, or not.

For a moment, he tries to rationalize what he did. Or that maybe the steroids didn't have such a big effect as he talks about his good and bad years. But he throws that aside, and apologizes.

It doesn't matter whether we can directly see the effects of our mistakes in our lives. It doesn't matter how well we can try to explain them away. What matters is legitimately being sorry, legitimately seeking forgiveness. Recognizing that what we did wasn't the way to go, and then making the change and going about it the right way.

Sure he's not going to be able to go back and try to play again without steroids. That opportunity is gone. And I bet that hurts. 

And the opportunities that we messed up due to our sins and bad decisions are gone as well. We don't get to relive them, and I know that hurts.

But we do get the new opportunities. We're not thrown away because of our past mistakes.

McGwire was praised by Cardinals Chairman Bill Dewitt for his decision to come clean/apologize and he was affirmed in his new role.

God praises us in our decisions to turn it around and rely on him. He is ecstatic when we stop hurting ourselves and making things worse. He affirms us in the new plans that he has for our lives, in the ways we can be productive in fruitful when we don't have that giant weight around our neck.

It's not easy. And it's painful. But it's through that pain in which God works and redeems us.

And McGwire too.