Last April, Bobby Petrino was fired from the head coaching position for the Arkansas Razorbacks after a flurry of embarrassing debacles, including a motorcycle accident and the subsequent revelation of an affair with a woman he had also hired. This week he granted an interview with ESPN for the first time since his firing. Here’s the theme of the interview that was most striking:
How could I put what we had in jeopardy? This is what I wake up early every morning thinking about, what I lay in bed thinking about. Why?…I have played it over and over in my head a million times. How could I do this? How could this happen? And not just the hiring. Or that day. But my actions, my behavior — for months it was just wrong.
Doesn’t your heart break with him? Each of us ought to be able to identify with Bobby–if not with his specific sins, then at least with the overwhelming question, “How could I do that?” Here are a few things I would tell Bobby if I had the chance:
We Know Why – God’s Word gives us all the tragic information we need. We do these horrible things (which the Bible calls sins) because it’s simply who we are. At the very deepest level we are bent against God’s rules, bent toward self-destruction, bent toward selfish, horrifying acts. In other words, we sin because we are sinners. We carry both the sinfulness of Adam (original sin) and a corruption of our entire selves. And though this is the least popular truth the Bible calls us to believe, it is the beginning of the best news ever.
Don’t Stop Asking - In addition to the question, “Why?” don’t stop yourself from asking more questions: “What does this mean? How do I know it won’t happen again? How can things be made right?” By your own words, you are far closer to the good news of the gospel than most people. Jesus himself said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Lk. 5:31-32) Once our sickness is undeniable and on view for everyone in the world to see, we have come to the point where we’re ready for Jesus.
Find The Answer – Just to be clear, there’s no righteousness or ultimate solution in just asking good questions! Don’t stop until you find the ultimate answer, the answer that doesn’t lie with your own strength but the one that lies with Jesus. It goes something like this:
Because you sinned greatly against your wife, your family, your employers and ultimately your Creator, you need forgiveness. Jesus quite literally paid for that forgiveness through his death on the cross. Trust in him and he pays the bill. Confess your sins and sinfulness, seek forgiveness from God and you will find it.
Because you were born a sinner (so was I!), you need more than just forgiveness, you need a new heart. We need to have God not only say that we aren’t guilty, we need him to take away the hell-bent hearts we were born with and replace them with heaven-bent hearts. Without this deep change, what will you be able to offer your wife as hope for the future? And this is God’s promise! “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:26)
Join The Choir – It’s an added tragedy that all this had to be played out in front of the nation; no one would wish this additional heartbreak for your wife and family. The one good thing about it is that it sets you up well to join the choir of those who have fallen horribly only to be picked up by Jesus. Paul himself, a murderer and hater of God, wrote “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Tim. 1:15) Everybody in America now knows about your sin and there’s no undoing of that; I’m praying that they might also know about your salvation, that you could join our choir of those who asked “Why?” and found the answer, of those who went from being guilty to forgiven, crushed to restored, sinful to righteous.