Pastor Tim: Choices & Consequences

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed - Credit: Archant

“I deeply regret my actions and I’m ashamed I made such remarks”.   
These were the contrite words spoken by England cricketer Ollie Robinson last weekend, after the content of historic comments he had posted on social media came to light.   
For Robinson, what should have been a week of celebration – the Kent-born fast bowler was making his test debut – turned into a personal nightmare, as news of his ill-conceived opinions were brought to the wider publics’ attention.   
The fact that his offensive tweets were not recent, (they were first written on Twitter back in 2012/13 when he was still a teenager), have led to differing views as to how Robinson should be sanctioned.   
In response to the English Cricket Board’s decision to suspend Robinson from all formats of International Cricket, whilst an investigation takes place, the government’s culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, tweeted his view that, because the remarks were from the best part of a decade ago, and the immature teenager who made them had since “grown up”, the board’s suspension was an over-the-top reaction.   
However, former English test batsman Michael Carberry was in less conciliatory mood.  “If it was up to me”, he said on BBC Radio 5 Live, “he wouldn’t be playing test cricket.  I don't believe this is a problem where you can rehabilitate someone”.   

Ollie Robinson, Vice Captain of Sussex CCC bowls during the LV= Insurance County Championship match

Ollie Robinson, Vice Captain of Sussex CCC bowls during the LV= Insurance County Championship match between Sussex CCC and Kent at The 1st Central County Ground, Hove, Sussex on May 13 2021. - PHOTO: Micah Crook/PPAUK - Credit: Micah Crook/PPAUK


I came across this anonymous quote recently that sums up the dramatic change of fortune that Ollie Robinson has suddenly experienced: “The consequences of the choices you make can change your life in the blink of an eye.  Be sure of what you do before you do it.  Sometimes it can’t be undone”.   
A scene from the classic film of the mid 1990s, “The Shawshank Redemption”, underlines to me the truth of that statement, when, the character played by Morgan Freeman, Ellis Boyd Redding, faces a parole hearing after serving forty years of a life sentence, which is his punishment for committing a double homicide.   
When asked whether he feels worthy of release from incarceration, Redding responds, “What do you really want to know? Am I sorry for what I did? There’s not a day goes by when I don’t feel regret.   
“I look back on the way I was then – a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime.  I want to talk to him, try and talk some sense into him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t.”   
The consequence of the sinful actions of perhaps the most famous Old Testament character, King David, is stark. David was the greatest ruler in Israel’s history; but he was also someone with his fair share of flaws.   
In 2 Samuel chapters 11 & 12, we’re told of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. When she subsequently tells the king that she’s pregnant, David’s failed attempts to cover up his transgressions, lead to him having Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, killed in battle.  
When sometime later, God confronts David with his terrible wrongdoing, the penitent king repents, and receives the Lord’s forgiveness. But we also realise that some of the consequences of his foolishness cannot be undone, and although David remains king, the remaining years of his reign suffer accordingly.   
For any Christian, the Bible also speaks positively of the consequence of making right choices. In Psalm 1, we are presented with a choice of two ways of living; and for the person of faith who spends their time listening to what God says, seeking to live their daily lives according to divine wisdom, the psalmist says that the life of such a person will be as prosperous as a tree planted by streams of water, “flourishing & fruitful”.   
As the late dramatist Dennis Potter once observed, “Everything we do has consequences”.