Monday, February 10, 2014

Guilt By Association

Football season is over after the Seahawks' rout of the Broncos! Where I grew up, there was only one team of loyalty- THE NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS! Today in class, we discussed my entry  about the plane crash which took the life of New York Yankee, Cory Lidle, and I probed their views of life and death. The following is about one of the most horrific incidents in college football history. It is from November 14, 2006.

Thirty-six years is a long time. Thirty-six years ago today, a plane crashed in West Virginia. Airplane accidents are always news but this one was particularly chilling. On November 14, 1970, a plane carrying seventy-five persons associated with the Marshall University football team crashed outside of Huntington, returning from a game at East Carolina. There were no survivors. The story is being brought out of the archives this year with the December release of We Are Marshall, a movie tribute to that team and the resurrection of the program. In conjunction with the anniversary, Dan Wetzel penned an excellent piece on today's Yahoo! Sports. Instead of focusing on the thirty-seven players and five coaches who died that day, Wetzel tells the story of Red Dawson, an assistant coach for the Thundering Herd. In the process of recruiting a junior college linebacker, Dawson drove back from the game to pay another visit to the prospect, Billy Joe Mantooth. The only time Dawson failed to travel by air with the team is the time the plane never arrived. Now, thirty-six years later and sixty-three years old, Dawson is facing a past he often tried to avoid. He describes having what he refers to as survivor's guilt for living when so many of his friends died. He relates the agony of twenty-seven funerals in one week and how in the midst of this horror movie that was real, he held it all in. He recalls how his initial reaction to the film was to ignore it instead of cooperating. Dawson finally relented, believing he would be paying tribute to those who perished. Now, in talking about the dead, he has finally found peace.

How many of us remain prisoners to our past? Red Dawson's prison cell was constructed from a very publicized, very heartbreaking catastrophe. Most who live in emotional chains are bound by something much less public but no less real. The defining moment of Red Dawson's life was out of his control but it has served to dominate him no less. Guilt is such a double-edged sword. It justifiably acts to make us aware of our sins and our shortcomings but left unchecked, it can reduce us to individuals consumed by self-loathing. Satan is the master of guilt, making us feel as if we have no value and constantly reminding us of our unworthiness. In Hebrews 10, we are promised that drawing near to our Heavenly Father can "cleanse us from a guilty conscience." It almost seems ironic: coming closer to absolute sinlessness in the form of Jehovah God can serve to absolve us of the guilt we feel from being so far removed from his perfection. It has taken Red Dawson close to four decades to forgive himself for a wrong he never committed. In Jesus, that guilt is washed away in the blink of an eye. Why stand in line for thirty-six years?

Applicable quote of the day:
"Guilt is anger directed at ourselves."
Peter McWilliams

God bless,

Luke 18:1
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