My first blog request… what a huge honor/encouragement!! Someone reads this AND wants to hear my thoughts on something pressing in on their heart!?!? And to top it off, they showed up at my job to request it, so I got to enjoy Chick-Fil-A cashier ‘rock star status’ for no less than 11 seconds. It was awesome.
But there’s an odd reality to desiring the perspective of someone else… no one ever really asks how you view joy or exhilaration. There are few queries about deeply positive things. And today’s request was no different. ‘You should write about that awful stuff going on at Penn State.
If you aren’t up to speed, go to cnnsi.com. They have full coverage of the alleged sexual abuses of a former PSU assistant football coach. The short of it is that there are 8 cases (or victims) building a case of sexual abuse again young male children between 2002-2009. And if you swing by any chat area, blog or journalistic site that allows comments, you can read some raw, angry thoughts from people all over the country. I listen to a good bit of ESPN radio, & it is the dominant topic of the day. And in unusual unanimity, everyone agrees. Like everyone else, I am deeply saddened. Of course the depictions are horrifying & gut-wrenching. But if we all agree… why in the world does someone want my opinion?
Here’s what I’ve come up with… is there a Christian response? Is there a sense amidst the nonsense? Is there a peace within this war of abuse, neglect, & worldliness? No. Not likely. And I doubt it.
There is next to nothing to compare this to. Is this atrocity on the level of death camps & genocide? In those cases, I have never heard someone venture a silver lining. That would be a hard sale & probably a terrible idea to propose. And if there is an atrocity scale, & these abuses under-rank Auschwitz, does that really matter? There’s still no silver lining that’s going to pop out from however many innocent lives were damaged, distorted or destroyed by this.
So here’s some advice going forward. Integrity is foundational, fundamental, & always necessary! Find it, study it, grow it, cultivate it, search for it, cling to it, err on the side of it, never walk away from it, & forever hold it as a banner to who you are & how you live your life. In your marriage, your home, your work, your thoughts, your dating life, your text messages, your attractions, your conversations, your motivations, your desires, your successes & your failures, lift up the need to know & hold fast to integrity. Find your own moral compass & ethical principles & stick to them. Pursue those things that make you whole & holy. For me, it is Christ. So here’s some words from the Word on pursuing wholeness & integrity:
‘whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’ [Philippians 4:8]
‘Let the words of my mouth & the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord, my rock & my redeemer.’ [Psalm 19:14]
‘May integrity & uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, & I have trusted in the Lord without wavering’ [Psalm 25:21-26:1]
‘Have you considered my servant Job… a blameless & upright man, who fears God & turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.’ [Job 2:3]
I especially love that last one. Faced with unfair circumstances, pitfalls everywhere, & innumerable foes, Job held his moral ground & his faithful bedrock. And that’s the key. Integrity, immersed in faithful obedience to Christ must be foundational. It can’t be a window dressing or an add-on. If integrity is not indispensable in our lives, we will dispense of it when the cost gets uncomfortably high. And there will be circumstances that try your integrity. These tests don’t always lead to sexual immorality, the dissolution of families, corruption & loss. But a lot of them do. And the trials that do not lead to the ‘big downfalls’ [whatever you think those are] lead to some pretty awful results themselves. So chase after the highest ground you’ve found, as if your life… your children, marriage, church, ministry, family, finances, & overall stability depends on it!
I suppose we are all faced with a Frostian divergence in the proverbial woods: one way leads to this being said of us…
‘For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his own soul?’ [Matthew 16:26]
The other way resulting in this…
‘And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts & your minds in Christ Jesus.’ [Philippians 4:7]
That’s my answer. ‘Choose this day whom you will serve.’ [Joshua 24:15b] And then go for it. Go recklessly after God. Pursue righteousness for His name’s sake. And when someone asks you about atrocities that are both wretched & unfathomable, turn the conversation to intentional choices in your life to avoid those things that lead to stumbling, falling away, & failing. And if the only ‘silver lining’ that can come from this devastating headline is renewed focus on integrity, amen.
‘…as for me & my house, we will serve the Lord.’ [Joshua 24:15d]