It has been a horrible season for our town.
A cloud covers us because the mighty lion has fallen. By lion, I mean Penn State. A hometown hero has been charged with deplorable crimes against children. High ranking university officials have been charged with perjury. And there’s more to come.
If the charges are true, more victims will step forward. We will learn about more devastation, more loss of innocence, more broken trust, more eroded character.
Yes, the lion has fallen, and we are in free fall.
That’s why we need God more than ever: God for the victims, God for the accused, God for the justice system, God for Penn State, God for us.
We need God’s steadfast words to guide us, his unfailing words to right us. We need God’s presence to comfort us, his touch to heal us. We need to pray.
There are a lot of words flying. Words by media. Words by lawyers. Words by the public. We can easily consume these words and become consumed by them. But in this season of free fall, let’s not forget who can heal us. God wants to, although it will take time.
There’s no quick fix to this. It’s going to get uglier before it gets better. Mark my words.
But while we are in free fall, I believe God is saying some things to us. And if we heed them, we might find our way up. This isn’t all God’s saying, but it’s some of what I believe He’s saying.
“My eyes are on the brokenhearted.”
There are many brokenhearted right now, especially the alleged victims and their families. Things allegedly went on that no child should ever experience. They are said to have occurred in shower rooms and basements, vehicles and hotel rooms. Regardless of where, God knows about each incident and cares about what went on. He cares about each victim’s heart. He wants to restore what was taken and after that, give them a life they only dreamed of. God’s eyes are on the brokenhearted. And they’re on us.
“Worship Me alone.”
This week’s events have revealed the objects of our worship, our hidden, “acceptable” idolatry. Part of our community’s pain is the tearing down of our idols. Now we’re reeling because we realize we’ve been duped. We’ve put our trust in humans, and humans have let us down. For years we have raised our voices and hands in praise. We have spent riches on our team. We have clocked scores of time for the lion. We have traveled miles to pilgrimage at the temple. And we have believed Joe was infallible. But the curtain has been opened, and the wizard is a fake. (Joe’s not the wizard, the whole idol is.) Now what? I believe God is calling us to worship him alone.
“Turn your sex lives over to Me.”
A month before the news broke, The Daily Collegian, which is Penn State’s student-run newspaper, introduced a sex column. The columnist encouraged students to dive into sex and “really delve into what’s important.” Her reason? She’s 20 and, “We’re at the point in our lives when we are coming into our sexuality.” But such haphazard sex seems soiled now that we’ve heard about the shower room. And 20 years doesn’t seem so old because it’s not much older than the victims (allegedly). Consensual sex between adults isn’t equivalent to what is being charged. However, attitudes toward permissive and promiscuous sex certainly don’t help, and they contribute to the acceptance of lower moral standards. So let’s turn our sex lives over to God. Let’s protect ours for the sake of those who couldn’t protect theirs.
“Look at the plank in your own eye.”
With unspeakable charges like this, we’re quick to seek justice. It’s for good reason. A society is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members. We don’t stand for crimes against children. We will prosecute. But in the hunt, we must examine ourselves. When sin is exposed in a community, it’s not just about the offender. It’s about each of us. We must search our hearts, search our motives, search ourselves. In the end, no one escapes judgment.
Perhaps if we heed God’s words, a New Lion will arise in Lion Country. I look forward to that bright day.