The Musings 11
Read: 1 Samuel 15
The world waited in bated breath on Thursday and yesterday to watch one of the most awaited and anticipated shows in television. It was not American Idol nor dancing with the stars but an exclusive interview by Oprah Winfrey on Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong has been in the wrong news for quite some time, but people wanted to know the truth. Now Lance Armstrong himself has come up bracing up the truth about the controversy surrounding his doping scandal. The Oprah Winfrey exclusive no holds barred interview with Lance Armstrong titled " Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive" was aired on Thursday January 17th and yesterday January 18th on Own; which is Oprah Winfrey Network. In this no hold barred interview, Lance Armstrong had admitted that he is guilty and that he had used a number of performance enhancing drugs to win the seven Tour de France titles. This confession comes after Armstrong has been on an angry and denial mode all these years. People all over the world is finding it hard to come to terms with the truth that this world record holder had cheated to garner all the glory. Calling himself "deeply flawed" individual, he now regrets all that he has done and confessing that he has been lying umpteen times. Armstrong admitted he had used both testosterone and other growth hormone so as to increase the amount of oxygen that can be delivered to the muscles thus improving recovery and endurance. But he says that he did not bring the culture of doping in professional cycling and that taking banned substance was something that was part of the system and he did not do anything to stop cheating. More than the doping issue, more grave is the tactics that Armstrong did to cover up his doping issue. In his interview with Oprah, he confesses that he was bully trying to cover up alleged illegal victories. He became very venomous at his former team mates and others who did not stand by him for the fear of being exposed. His near cult status not only prevented others to disbelieve him, but in the process many lives of his team mates was shattered by Armstrong. Though he fought cancer and described himself as a fighter, he described himself as a jerk. What brought about the downfall of this wonderful cyclist is the attitude of arrogance that came on him as he started winning event after event especially the Tour de France titles and soon the moot of his life was "the ruthless desire to win at all cost". It is this desire to win at all cost, not concerned on the means that one use,s that finally brought Armstrong on his knees. As Armstrong made this open confession before Oprah, the world saw how an individual who becomes arrogant because of his victories and one who wanted to control everything in life finally falls down from grace. What does the episode of Armstrong teaches us?. Armstrong himself states that he was arrogant and one whose focus in life was the ruthless desire to win and one who wanted to control everything in life and these are values that I believe so prevalent in our society today. Are we willing to learn lessons from the life of Armstrong?
There is one character in the bible whose focus was just like Armstrong. His desire was similar to Armstrong- to win at all cost, even if it means to compromise on the values and principles that the Lord commanded him to do. This character is King Saul. We can find the exploits of Saul in the book of 1 Samuel. Saul was a king who was anointed by God as his chosen one. He was thirty years old when he became king and he reigned for forty years [1 Sam 13: 1]. However, he did not end the way he began. The Lord was favorable and pleased with him in the beginning but as he became popular and victorious, the downfall began. In 1 Samuel 15: 11, we find Lord telling Samuel " I am grieved that I made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried my instructions". What made Lord grieve over a person whom he made a king and what made Saul fall from the favor of Lord?. In the first few verses of chapter 15, we find the will of the Lord to Saul. He is suppose to punish Amalekites by attacking them and totally destroying everything, including human beings and cattle's and all material things, for what they had done to Israelites. But Saul had his own plan. He was the king and he might have thought that as a king he has his own right, individuality and freedom. He attacks Amalekites but he spares the best of sheep, cattle, fat calves and lambs, all that was good. These material things were too good to be destroyed. Here is Saul willfully disobeying the will of God. Later when prophet Samuel goes out to meet Saul in Carmel, Saul brings salutation to Samuel and tells him that he has done all that the Lord had commanded him. That is when Samuel raises the question " What then is the bleating of the sheep in my ears? What is the lowing of the cattle that I hear? [1 Sam 15: 14]. Instead of confessing his sins, Saul still defends his action. Here is a king who has been chosen by God to do His will, but deliberately disobeys God for his own selfish benefits. Not only does he disobey God, but he also schemes to hide his sins and his selfish interest in life. It is from this part onwards that you find Saul falling from the favor of God and soon you find Samuel anointing David as the King. The downfall of Saul and Lance Armstrong teaches us that if life is understood in terms of winning alone, when winning is all about achieving more and more glory and laurels and other material benefits, least concerned, very brazen in breaking rules and values on the way to victory, then one's life is on weak foundation. What is needed today in our life is to consciously humble ourselves to God, uphold the values of honesty and integrity even if it means we are on the losing side. We need to remember that life is sometimes not about winning alone. There is more to life......A life lived in will and pleasing to God.
Rev.Dr. Jose Joseph Kuruvilla