Australian cricket was sent spiralling following the revelation of ball tampering in the third test against South Africa.The controversy that followed left a nation in shock and disbelief. The footage of the event was all revealing and now the reputation of some of Australia’s top players are in tatters to say the least. There is, of course no excuse and thoseinvolveddespite theirdeep regret will have to face lengthy exclusions from the game that has been their life.
On ThursdaySteveSmith the Australian captaingave a press conference and it was obvious from the start that here was a man who deeply regretted his actions. He apologised, took full responsibility for his actions and confessed that it was an act of complete arrogance and madness. His words were measured and thoughhis tears he just asked for forgiveness for the shame he had brought to the game he loved. Questions followed,including what this would mean to the manyyoung fans of the game.At this lowest point a hand was gently placed on his shoulder. It was the hand of his father who had been standing in the shadow of his son’s shame. The world was against him – but his dad was there.
When we’ve got it all wrong, when our world is falling apart and we are wracked with guilt for some foolish deed which still may haunt uswetoo can know peace.It comes in the assurance that God forgives all who come to him in true repentance. Jesus told the story of prodigalson whosefoolishness and pride led him to almost complete disaster. While eating the food of pigswith nothing left but the rags that covered him he remembered his father’s love and so began his long journey home. He expected nothing more than condemnationwith the slim hope of a bed in the barn. To his surprise his father ran to meet him kissing and embracing him with his strong arms of love. Turning his rags to riches and sadness to rejoicing that this son, despite his arrogant rebelliousness was home again.
That’s the Gospel and the unchanging message of God’s redeeming love to us all. The Easter message jumped out to me from the TV when I saw that gentle hand of love and comfort – Dad was there and his broken son was not alone – and neither are we. In the words of a much-loved hymn ‘I once was lost but now I’m found was blind but now I see’ truly ‘Amazing grace!’