No one was really surprised about the Jerry Sandusky verdict. The line to testify against him had grown and the eyewitness accounts were damning. And now, what was once a revered and legendary football coach, a part of college sports royalty, will die in prison. His contribution to Penn State’s win/loss record will be wiped clean and another record replaces them.
The countless victims—public and private—can now have a sense of justice to help them in healing. But the scars will forever be a part of them. All because of one man’s choices.
What can we learn from such a horrific and tragic scene?
Well, somewhere, way back, Sandusky either had some abusive event occur to him that passed the torch or he just began to be sexually tempted. Was it pornography? A sexual encounter? All of these? What lit such a massive fire?
The bottom line is sometime, somewhere, somehow, the pebble rolled off the cliff in Jerry Sandusky’s soul and, by the time he reached his 40s, it was a boulder that was crushing his victims and going to crush him and his family. Even his charity that he set up for at-risk boys appeared to be just a front for finding the next victim. It even had a Biblical reference in the name—The Second Mile.
Let’s get to the point and apply some truth, because this is not about judgment of him, but evaluation of ourselves. The enemy set all this up to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) and that he did well, in many lives. He made Jerry Sandusky believe he was invincible, uncatchable, beyond natural or man-made law. He knew he was going to snap the noose on him at some point, but was willing to wait for years as long as the victim count could keep mounting. Now, let me stop and say here, that I am not painting Sandusky to be a victim, but I am saying he became a puppet to destroy lives, including his own. Sandusky, as we all do, had a choice and he made his choice.
How many times do you think he said to himself, “This is it. I can’t do this again. I have to stop and get help”? And then at what point did his conscience become so seared that he quit thinking about quitting and set fire to the bridge back to a normal life?
Let’s bring this home . . . If any of us have a secret, or a list of people keeping our secret, or for months or maybe years, have thought, “I have to stop. This has to be the last time,” we can’t think for a moment that we won’t become a Sandusky. Sandusky didn’t think he would become what he did. If any of us silence the voice that tells us to stop and just lets the flesh run wild, we are capable of horrific acts too. Hear this: No one becomes a monster overnight. It takes time, saying yes and fighting off the no’s, one choice at a time, until the answer is always yes without question.
How do any of us know how far our sin is going to take us, if left unchecked? How do we know our noose won’t be snapped next week? The truth is we don’t.
The purpose of this article isn’t to write more rhetoric on a fallen sports legend or to put some mystical spin on the headlines. The purpose is to ask ourselves if there’s a voice that needs to be heeded today in us, before it’s too late—and, as in this story, others who don’t deserve the heartbreak.
If after reading this, something is screaming inside of you, why not get help today? What do you think Jerry Sandusky would tell you from his cell? You think he thinks it was all worth it?
We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead. Don’t be fooled, my dear friends. —James 1:14-16 CEV