Legendary Loss


This morning Clint, who always wakes up at least two hours before me, crawled back into bed and woke me up with lots on his mind.  For thirty minutes we lay under the covers, talking about Lance Armstrong.  I tried to convince him to be my first guest blogger, but he graciously declined. 🙂

So that leaves me and you to carry on the conversation.

For months, I’ve wanted to write a post entitled “Why Jesus?”  I’ve approached the topic from many angles—historical, logical, emotional.  But the truth is, I can sum up the number one reason I’ve chosen Jesus in two words: Lance Armstrong.

I know exactly what it’s like to be him.  Okay, not in the cycling sense.  But in the big fat phony sense.  I know what it’s like to long for a worthy identity, to stash my failings way down deep where nobody but me can see them.  I know what it’s like to be a fraud.  To win the middle school Christian character award and be mean as a snake on the inside.  To hand out advice like candy canes and secretly be falling apart at the seams.

Ultimately, that’s what drove me to Jesus.  People come to worship Jesus for many different reasons.  Need was mine.  I was completely broken.  Shiny as Armstrong’s spokes on the outside, but broken on the inside.  And truthfully, I still see it.  Anytime I peek into my heart, I see my sinful humanity alive and beating.  Selfish.  Afraid.  Cruel.  Weak.  I need Jesus.  Continually.  Jesus offers me hope, not to become a worthy person, but to stake my worth on Someone other than myself!  Secure in Him, I no longer need to be secure in myself.

Can you relate to being broken?  Let me ask it this way—when you heard about Lance Armstrong, you were probably shocked, but were you confused?  Did it seem unthinkable?  Or did it make all too much sense?  We recognize the thoughts and feelings that drove Armstrong’s choices because they are our own.  The longing for significance, the addiction to performance, the hunger for self-glory born out of insufficiency.  They are testimonies of our need for Someone transcendent—not another human just as messed up as we are, but a God.  Someone outside of this fallen realm, Someone unstained by guilt, Someone with the power not only to save but to impart identity, significance, and hope.  Someone to restore what’s been lost, to journey with us, changing our heart and our destination.

That is the hope of the gospel.  Made for God and destined for purpose, we have been crippled by sin ever since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).  Knowing we could never be good enough to reach a perfect God, God Himself came down to us in the form of a man–Jesus Christ.  Because He was the only sinless man to ever live, Jesus was able to pay the penalty for our sin.  Think of it this way–if you were on trial for murder, a righteous judge would not allow a thief to stand in your place.  That thief must pay the penalty for his own sin.  Only a blameless man could stand in your place.  What’s more, in the analogy, it is the Judge himself who chooses to stand in your place.  This demonstrates both uncompromised justice and extreme mercy.  There are two responses to such an action–you can accept the Judge’s generous trade, or you can choose to await the judgement yourself.  One will result in eternal life, and the other eternal wrath.  How do you make the trade?   By sincere faith in what Christ has done…faith that will manifest itself in whole-hearted devotion to Christ (John 3:16, Romans 10:9-10).

It took Lance Armstrong 24 hours to lose everything—achievements, status, wealth, identity.  Learn from his mistake.  Put your hope in something lasting.  Hear the Psalmist’s cry–“Put your hope in the Lord!  For with the Lord is unfailing love, and with Him is full redemption.”  (Psalm 130:7)  In the wake of legendary loss, there is legendary gain to be had.

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