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Lance Armstrong, Grace, and Repentance

Posted on January 22nd, 2013

Lance Armstrong’s public apology this past week drew severe criticism for being incomplete, tentative, evasive, and lacking in true remorse. Yes, he admitted some things, but he still seemed to be spinning. Most people were unimpressed. I related to Lance Armstrong and was impressed. Why? I understand something of the deep, cunning nature of sin in my own life and the long process and stages of repentance. I also understand a little about the challenge to distinguish the complex, interior movements of my own heart. Tyler Hamilton, his former friend and teammate, reminds us of his own journey in coming clean. He too lived years of denial and lies around his use of performance-enhancing drugs. “When I first started telling the truth, it came out like water trickling out of a faucet,” Hamilton said. He talked about his early stages of admitting his guilt — the pain, the incompleteness, and the slow and brutal process of coming to terms with years of deception. Daniel Coyle, his coauthor in “The Secret Race,” noted that “people underestimate how difficult it is to tell the truth when you have lived a secret life for a long time.” He compared the process to digging out a “buried city in the sand.” I agree. I relate to Armstrong’s slow, halting, struggling repentance that is yet at an early stage. I have lived it. I’ve also seen in others – whether the sin was adultery, murder. child abuse, ambition, pride, or hatred. May God give Lance Armstrong the grace to take his next steps in his Psalm 51 journey of repentance, and may he meet a loving God and church in the process.

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Church Culture Revolution: A 6-Part Vision That Deeply Changes Lives