Going Full Circle: Agony After Victory

horseI can still remember Jim McKay’s famous tagline: “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” It was an invitation to stop what I was doing and to watch the weekly edition of ABC’s Wide World of Sports.  McKay’s famous words went full circle this past Saturday in the world of horse racing.

Trainer Francis Campitelli was enjoying the “thrill of victory’ as he watched Homeboykris cross the finish line in first place. A short time later, Campitelli’s thrill turned to agony as his horse collapsed and died while walking to the stable.

This sad incident lends credence to Solomon’s observation in Proverbs 27:24: “Riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.”

If you know anything about horse racing, you should know that fame and fortune can be fleeting; it’s a dangerous sport that is prone to deadly accidents. In 2012, the New York Times reported that each week 24 horses had died on racetracks from 2009 to 2012.

I doubt the Apostle Paul was thinking of horse racing when he spoke of the uncertainties of life; however, his statement is interesting: “Tell those who are rich in this age not to be arrogant and not to place their confidence in anything as uncertain as riches. Instead, let them place their confidence in God, who lavishly provides us with everything for our enjoyment (I Timothy 6:17).”

Paul’s words to Timothy were no aggrandizement of the truth; they were based on a statement that Jesus had made: “First and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also (Matthew 6:33 ~Amplified Bible).”

I’ll close with Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Jesus’ logic: “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers — most of which are never even seen — don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you (The Message)?”

The Pope, The Military, and Boy Play

pope-hugs-girlAfter he met with a sex abuse survivor group on Sunday morning, Pope Francis addressed a group of 300 bishops:  “It continues to be on my mind that the people who had the responsibility to take care of these tender ones, violated that trust and caused them great pain, and God weeps.”

Another report from last week focused on a culture of corruption that the U.S. Military is reluctant to confront.  According to an article in the New York Times, “Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally ‘boy play,’ and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases.”

When some of our military have intervened, their careers haven been jeopardized.  martlandCaptain Dan Quinn, a former member of the Army Special Forces, gave an American-backed militia commander a thrashing for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.

Quinn isn’t the only soldier to be punished.  Because Sgt. First Class Charles Martland helped Captain Quinn the Army is trying to forcibly retire him.

Even if “boy play” is culturally permitted and a sign of status in some parts of the Middle East, it doesn’t take much sense to know that it’s morally reprehensible.  Whether it’s in the USA, Afghanistan, Russia, or China, people would do well to recognize the love of Jesus for children:

Unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.  ~Matthew 18