How Lance Armstrong Taught Me I Was A Dirtbag

I heard on the radio this morning Lance Armstrong is preparing to come clean (kinda).

I must confess, I’ve never cared for the public image the cycler portrayed. He seemed cocky, seemed like a womanizer, and even seemed to over-state his battle with cancer for publicity purposes. I remember the interview after one post cancer Tour De France victory where the reporter asked if Armstrong thought his rousing success was a miracle of God.

Armstrong’s (paraphrased) response: “This wasn’t God, this was me.”lance armstrong

After lying about doping for years and hiding behind his foundation under the guise of righteousness, a revealing light has come out against Armstrong in the testimony of a great cloud of witnesses. In the past ten years some of these hapless victims Armstrong has taken to court, publicly slandered, privately bullied, and viciously squeezed every last penny out of their reputation in humiliating fashion.

Their crime: Telling the truth about Armstrong’s cycling legacy.

What a dirtbag! was the first bitter thought on my ride into work.

But as I brooded over the injustices I heard, a chord struck me at the soul level:

Lance Armstrong is a broken soul that needs grace at least as much as I do.

He is in the same perilous boat we are all by nature in:

Dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:1).

Enemies of God (Romans 5:10).

Children of Wrath (Eph 2:3).  

Natural rebels against a high and Holy King.

Armstrong may not see it that way, but God forbid I withhold grace from a soul who clearly needs it. Because in the end, I likewise am a soul who clearly needs it. If true, Armstrong’s wrongs against humanity are real and demand repentance. But they are no worse than my daily crimes of neglect and brattiness against a Father who has called me His child through the blood of His dear Son.

The main difference between Lance Armstrong and Bryan Daniels? If I have experienced this dynamic grace in the person of Jesus like I claim to, I should know better.

So this morning, by the grace of God, my pretentious self-righteous anger turned into mercy filled intercessory prayer for Armstrong.

I pray his lasting mark on earth won’t be a yellow Livestrong bracelet, but the bloody red embrace of strong love found at the foot of cross and empty tomb. I pray he sees there is a far better race to run and prize to win in this life, and he will never win it without the grace of a Father being lavished on him.

And I thank God for His free impartial intervening grace to fallen undeserving men; even dirt bags like me and Lance Armstrong.

Bryan Daniels

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

21 thoughts on “How Lance Armstrong Taught Me I Was A Dirtbag”

  1. Bryan, beautifully penned. Mr. Armstrong has chased his idea of success not knowing that it may cost him his soul. I pray God humbles him to seek the only thing that matters.

  2. One thing we can agree with Lance about, he did this to himself, not God. God just had to leave him to his own sin, and this was the end result. Therefore, “O Just and Holy God, do not leave US to ourselves, but fill us with Your Spirit and restrain the dirtbags in our own hearts. Amen.”

  3. I absolutely agree that we were all born with the terminal illness of sin. The one thing that I would say about the scriptures you used is that if you read them in context, they are all used in past tense when describing the Christian (“you who were dead in trespasses and sins…” “while we were enemies, God reconciled us…” “…and were children of wrath just like the rest…”). I just though I should mention that because as Christians, the complete confession involves not only admitting our depravity apart from God, but who He has made us to be in Christ. Not trying to be disagreeable, but just want to suggest that you take an honest look at the New Covenant scriptures and the use of past and present tenses when describing the Christian identity (again, an identity Christ gave us as a gift not according to our performance). But again, I agree 100% that judging Lance or even Hitler would be to fall into self-righteousness. Peace, bro.

    1. I agree with you and certainly “dead/wrathdeserving/rebels” is no longer our identity if we are in Christ. I would submit that apart from Christ we are no better than the Lance’s/Hitler’s as you alluded to. I guess the main thrust of this post would be my propensity to not give the grace I have been so freely given, and in that I’m being a “dirtbag.” Thanks for the food for thought…

      1. Sure, thanks for responding with an open heart. It feels good to be able to talk about the scriptures and sort things out. I would add that though you had trouble with the “dirtbaggedness”, because you are a new creature, the Christ in you rose up to see your need to give grace.

      2. I think sometimes we think we find grace for ourselves by getting all self-righteous about other people’s sins. This post is a GREAT reality check–we have no cause to get self-righteous because we were in the same place and . . . we don’t need to, because Jesus gives us REAL grace. Thanks–as usual–for writing this.

  4. I was talking about the large,large grace of God with friends a while ago, in the context of people whom have greatly disappointed and betrayed us, and how grace was even for them. I said, “I sure wouldn’t want to be the one to say that grace should be withheld from them, because I am sure that out there is someone who thinks I am a bitch undeserving of God’s love.” To this one of my friends replied, “True.” The whole conversation dissolved in laughter as we affirmed that all of us are undeserving of grace. That’s what makes it so wonderful.

  5. Fellow former dirtbags and current dirtbags unaware,

    “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”
    Romans 3:22-25

    Right on Chief of redeemed dirtbags,…”there is no difference.
    Whether we miss by an inch or a mile, “all fall short”.

    We just like to think it isn’t so. Guess that too is our fallen nature.

    Great post Chief.

  6. About a week ago, when I was irritated at a sister in Christ for her “attitude,” God revealed to me that she is just someone who has broken places in her heart & was trying to fill her “need” in an inappropriate way & that I needed to pray for her. AND He showed me how I have done the exact same thing…..thank God for His grace for us dirtbags….

  7. Good stuff and you’re very right. No matter how disgusted we may be with his behavior, is it any worse than our own? I know not mine!

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