Have you ever noticed that some people don’t forget your past? No matter how many progressive strides you make, they always remember “when you used to …” When Jesus had performed enough miracles to confirm His identity, the people said, “Can any good come out of Nazareth?” or “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” And Jesus hadn’t made any mistakes. Just imagine what the future will be like for Tiger Woods, Marion Jones, Mark McGwire, and others who have fallen from grace. If Pete Rose still hasn’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and he gambled years ago, then surely someone will maintain an archive of Woods’, Jones’ and McGwire’s past errors.
I normally focus on David while reading the excerpt included above, but this morning, God shifted me to the reactions of his advisers. David had acknowledged his sin, asked for God’s forgiveness, and pleaded for God’s mercy on the child’s behalf. God heard, forgave, but said no to David’s request about the child. Immediately after learning about the child’s death, David arose and worshiped God. Notice the advisers’ response, “We don’t understand you.” In other words, they were shocked by David’s ability to resume life. They literally wanted him to “stay down,” given the terrible situation he was enduring.
In spite of their response, David moved forward. And that’s what we have to do – move forward, one step at a time. The freedom God provides is true freedom (see John 8:36), so we have every reason to move forward, in spite of the naysayers. I think the words of the song “Moving Forward” say it best: “I’m not going back, I’m moving ahead. I’m hear to declare to you my past is over. In You, all things are made new. Surrendered my life to Christ, I’m moving, moving forward.”
Tiger Woods’ disaster unfolded quickly. In a matter of days, it progressed from a random car accident to a real-life soap opera. And, the results weren’t pretty. First, comments came from his fans, “How could he do that?” Next, companies, whose profits he helped increase, began retracting their sponsorship agreements. But as things moved from bad to worse, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Tiger checked into a rehab program. He recognized he had a problem and sought help to resolve it.
Sometimes, disasters happen to expose our need to seek help. Those who find help often recover quickly, while those who ignore the signals plunge deeper into the pit of pain and shame. That’s why I love David. When Nathan, God’s prophet, pulled the cover off his affair with Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 12:1-14), he immediately sought help. And he didn’t check into a rehab clinic or find a self-help book on adultery. Instead, David turned to God, the solution to all life’s problems. He poured out his heart, asking God to help him through his mess.
The great news is that God has not retired from problem-solving. He’s still ready, willing, and able to help you through your disaster. Seek help from Him, and you’ll be able to testify like David, “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along” (Psalm 40:2, New Living Translation).
Remember the Marion Jones scandal? It all started when her ex-husband (C.J. Hunter) testified, under oath, that he saw her use performance enhancing drugs before the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Immediately thereafter, Jones vehemently denied all accusations to the press and two grand juries. She even divorced Hunter, claiming, among other things, that his accusations were ruining her image. In 2007, however, her story changed from denial to admission; she had used steroids. As a result, she was imprisoned and lost all of her medals and rewards from the 2000 Olympics. She could have avoided most of these consequences if she had confessed, and not concealed, her illegal activities.
If you think Marion Jones went to the extremes to cover her tracks, then wait until you hear about David. David had an affair with another man’s wife, and she got pregnant. Instead of admitting his affair with Bathsheba, David tried to remove all the evidence. First, he tried to get her husband to sleep with her. When that didn’t work, he had her husband killed. Then, to legitimize her pregnancy, he married Bathsheba. And, what happened to David? The baby died, and worse, God was not pleased with David.
David and Marion Jones remind us that concealing our mistakes is never a good choice. If you mess up, just admit it, and deal with the consequences. People tend to forgive quicker when you just acknowledge you errors. More importantly, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9, New Living Translation).
People often say, “Hindsight is 20-20.” That is, after the fact, our thoughts about a situation are especially clear. Our thoughts after the fact are so powerful that they often shape our future behaviors. If hindsight is so beneficial, then why isn’t foresight 20-20? What if we spent as much time thinking through decisions before we make them as we do after we make them? I listened to Tiger Woods’ interview with ESPN last weekend; he sounded remorseful and seemed to realize the seriousness of his infidelity. The interview was after the fact. Just imagine how much disgrace and heartache he could have prevented by thinking through the consequences before the actions.
What hinders our thinking prior to engaging in harmful actions? The problem is we spend most of our time mapping out the scheme. Temporary pleasures appear so appetizing that they numb us to the long-term consequences of poor decisions. Consider David. He spent too much time devising an immaculate scheme. It had multiple layers, and he even thought through concealing the evidence. David, however, didn’t spend enough time thinking through the consequences. He paid for it later.
Let’s avoid the mistakes Tiger Woods and King David made. When temptation baits the hook, think before you bite. And, here’s a fool-proof question to help you think before you bite: will this decision please God? If the answer is no, then run in the opposite direction.