First things first. I was wrong about Lance Armstrong. I now believe that he cheated his way to the top of his sport. I was not an ardent defender of him as he was being investigated but if anyone was interested in my opinion I would freely state that I felt he was a clean competitor during the “era” when he dominated the main event of professional cycling, the Tour de France.
He was drug-tested frequently and had never failed a test. Besides, I didn’t believe that there was enough money in cycling to drive people to commit the level of deception that would be needed to “effectively” cover-up any cheating Armstrong would have to be involved in, if he was cheating. I had no problem in believing the evidence when his contemporaries fell to scandal. But I was certain that Armstrong had reached a previously unknown level of success the old-fashioned way, through combination of extraordinary physical gifts that perfectly suited his chosen sport and an indefatigable inner drive to find the boundaries of his limits. I loved to watch him ride.
The evidence is now clear that Armstrong pursued a different path, which is also a well-worn one, traveled over and over by so many of us, myself included: the path of pride.
Pride encourages us to relish the achievements of the present in such a way that we make sure that others take note of them as well. And when there is nothing particularly prominent in our life now pride makes sure that we point attention to some storied moment in our past, when we were really “special.”
What I have become aware of recently, through the grace of God, is my affliction with, and my affection for, pride. I think that if I had been asked if I was a prideful person I would have denied it, something that now seems to be an obvious sign of its presence, at least in my case.
And this awareness of pride is making me aware of what I really need more of. Not more of myself, or of my memories, but more of Jesus and the memories of the grace God has provided in my life. A grace that suits His purposes perfectly, even though at any moment it may not suit mine. (Think of Paul’s thorn.)
So today I feel God inviting me to attend more to the relationship between He and I, and to allow Him to shape me more into the image of His Son. John the Baptist summarized the changing relationship between himself and Jesus with these words:
“He must increase and I must decrease.”
An increasing self-awareness of my pride reminds me of whom it is that should really be exalted in my mind, in my heart, in my words and in my actions. Not myself, but the one in whom, and for whom, all things were made. (John 1)
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.