Redemption

Charles Hamelin, the Canadian short-track speed skater, failed to get a medal in an early race in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  He was upset with himself.

Towards the end of the Olympics, he won a gold in the 500 meter race.  And about half an hour later, he returned to the ice to help his team win the short-track team gold.

For Hamelin, it was redemption.  For other athletes, too, there was early disappointment and later glory.

It’s a good reminder for me that making a mistake – or failing to reach a goal – does not mean that life is ruined.  As one athlete who lost said: “The sun will still shine tomorrow.”

A case in point is the story of John Mark in the New Testament.  In Acts 16, Paul had an argument with Barnabas, saying that John Mark should not come with them on their next missionary journey because he deserted them during an earlier trip.  Yet, Paul was reconciled to Mark later on, writing from prison to the Colossians that Mark had been a comfort to Paul and that they were to welcome him.

Of course, we are not always able to come back from defeat and win a significant victory.  But does that mean we should count our lives a failure?

From a spiritual viewpoint, I am already a victor through Jesus Christ.  When I put my faith in him, I shared in his victory over the power of death and Satan.  That doesn’t mean I no longer sin – I confess I do.  But I now belong to God and am part of his family forever.

Still, someone may say that it is not much of a victory if I continue to sin.  True, God is not happy when I sin.  He abhors sin.

But God knows me.  He knows that I am dust as David wrote in Psalm 103.

I am told in the Bible that God looks at my heart – not my accomplishments.  He wants to know where my heart is.  Am I looking to him?  Do I really want to know him better?  Do I want to enjoy him?  Do I want to spend time with him?  Where is my heart?

David’s example is instructive.  He sinned seriously when he had sex with another man’s wife and then arranged for that man’s death.  God was not pleased and David suffered the consequences.  But God did not stop loving David.  The Bible says that David was a “man after God’s own heart”.  He submitted himself to God.

In Philippians 3, Paul tells me how I am to approach life.  He says he is “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”  He is pressing on toward the goal “to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  He is looking ahead to what Jesus has in store for him.  He wants to please Christ.  He is on the road to heaven.

That seems to me the way I should deal with my failures.  I need to confess them as the apostle John says in 1 John 1:8-9.  But then I should get on with life,  looking ahead to Jesus and filling my mind and heart with him.  That is the surest way to victories in God’s eyes.

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