Yesterday’s Superbowl was a very good game, well fought by both sides. . .until the last 20 seconds. the score was 24-20, New England over Seattle. Then Seattle, with the ball less than a yard from the goal line and three chances to run it in, lost faith in one of the league’s best and strongest runners, choosing to pass the ball. To make it even worse, they threw an inside slant, right into a crowded part of the field. The result was in interception and a Superbowl loss.
That choice, had it turned out to be a scoring play, would have been seen as a brilliant surprise. The odds, however, were very heavily against success. And Coach Pete Carroll is going to have a real struggle to accept his error and move on. He will relive that decision ten thousand times in the next few months.
We have all made decisions like that, haven’t we? Decisions which leave us bewildered at ourselves, asking over and over again, “What was I thinking???” Sometimes we wonder how we could have been so brainless. Other, more serious times, we end up wondering how we could have ignored simple morality and done something we knew to be wrong.
Whatever the decision, stupid or immoral, we relive it again and again, regretting it and hoping we never repeat it.
Here’s where we need to hear good news: We can forgive ourselves because we are forgiven by God. Our self-forgiveness is not a matter of fooling ourselves into thinking the error just doesn’t matter. If we try to follow that line, we soon end up thinking nothing matters. But the truth is that our decisions do matter: intelligence is better than stupidity, goodness is better than evil.
God’s forgiveness is the ground of our own forgiveness, whether of ourselves or of others. And that forgiveness is itself grounded in the Cross of Jesus Christ. God does not simply pretend we haven’t done anything wrong. The full consequences of our flaws, errors, and sins were experienced by Jesus in crucifixion but that crucifixion does not have any effect on us until we allow ourselves to be identified with Jesus at the point of his death. When we entrust ourselves to God (i.e., have faith in God), we become identified with him, identified with his Son Jesus Christ.
When we are identified and united with Christ in a death like his, we will certainly be identified and united with him in a resurrection like his. Thus (among many other amazing blessings) our humiliation and shame are turned into humility and gratitude.
May Pete Carroll know this very week what that is like. . .