My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Joe Pa and... finding mercy

Joe Paterno has died.
I was never a big Penn State fan, but as I have mentioned many times, I'm a fan of fans. I appreciate the kind of passion and tradition that Joe Pa brought to the world of college football.
It's sad that his last few months held so much controversy. Will he be remembered for the great things he did and how he defined Penn State football... or will he be remembered for the shameful situation that occurred under his watch?

Will my life be defined by my successes or my failures? No one is perfect. All of us have some thorn in the flesh that has allowed us to bring shame on ourselves, whether privately or publicly. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

We all need grace. If we could earn it, it wouldn't be grace.

There is a local news story I have been following about a 7 year old girl who was abducted, molested and brutally murdered in a town very near where I once lived. Her killer admitted guilt and then committed suicide the next day. Facebook and Twitter and local online news stories were full of people who celebrated his death. I wasn't comfortable with that. Yes... he did a monstrous, horrible thing... but he was still a human being created by God... I have a real problem with wishing death on anyone. Life is God's to give and God's to take away.

How would I feel if that were my 7 year old little girl? I can't answer that. I know that there is power and freedom in forgiveness... I've only had to exercise that on a small scale. Truly, my greatest bitterness toward Michael was not in what he did to me but what he did to my children, how he hurt, mocked, demoralized and alienated them. Definitely he broke me and obviously he broke my spirit but what he did to my kids hurt me far worse. I've had to work through the process of forgiveness of what he did to my kids... and it has been a process... but I know that only by forgiving him have I been able to move on. I would think the same blessing awaits for those who have been wronged on a much greater scale. I hope that the children who were violated because of JoePa's lack of action can forgive him posthumously. I hope that the family of this precious young lady who was murdered can find that freedom.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize that all along, the prisoner was you.

Are there unforgivable acts? Maybe in a worldly view but not in a heavenly perspective. I'm no theologian but I believe that the only unpardonable sin is disbelief. If you believe in God... all can be forgiven.

I know that the world is full of people who avoid a relationship with God out of shame. "You don't know what I've done"... I know there are people who have wronged others... been unfaithful in their marriages... lied, cheated, stolen... I know there are people who have ended the lives of their unborn children... I know there are people who are walking around with a burden of shame so heavy that the only way they can lighten the load is by burying their heads in a variety of vices trying to drown out the voices that accuse them of *that thing they have done*... I know there are many who can't even begin to comprehend a God who can show mercy to ANYBODY.

That's why I love Him so much.

The world may always see the stain of sin in your life... God will see His child. Let Him love you. Let His mercy wash over you. Let go of the burden of shame and be who He created you to be.

Rest in Peace, Joe.