Busted: Godly Sorrow Part 1 by Neil Whitwam

Neil Whitwam, MS, MA
Latest posts by Neil Whitwam, MS, MA (see all)

Busted: Godly Sorrow Part 1 by Neil Whitwam


Closing his book with a definitive snap, Professor O’Neil slid his glasses to the top of his head. His demeanor was serious, but his eyes maintained their typical humorous glint. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he articulated carefully, “please do not forget the mid-term exam this upcoming Tuesday. It is comprehensive, and it covers the cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, and endocrine systems. I expect a detailed understanding of their interactions. You may rest assured that it will not present too much difficulty if you know the material thoroughly, however, this course covers the basic nuts and bolts of physiology that you must comprehend if you are to succeed in your future studies. Neither, therefore, will it be simple. One-hundred questions. Multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank and matching. There will be a ten-point extra-credit essay on the mechanisms of the interplay between the juxtaglomerular apparatus and blood pressure regulation. Class is dismissed. Happy Friday. Please use your weekend wisely. I will see you all on Tuesday.”

Willie Doltson gazed down at his jumbled notes and groaned to Ethan McConnell, who was seated beside him. “Dude, life was so much simpler back before I had ever heard of the endocrine system.”“‘This class is pretty intense,’ he shook his head. ‘I don’t know if there are enough hours between now and Tuesday to study all of this stuff.'”

“Ignorance really was bliss,” Ethan sighed as the pair extricated themselves from their desks. He grinned weakly, but Willie thought that he looked worried.

“I have a bad feeling about this test, Amigo. I really don’t need another ding in my GPA, and it is just… a lot.”

Nick, who sat behind Willie, overheard Ethan’s comment, and grunted in agreement. They both turned to look at him.

“This class is pretty intense,” he shook his head. “I don’t know if there are enough hours between now and Tuesday to study all of this stuff.”

Willie nodded politely, “No kidding, man!” He then (thinking that Nick’s interjection was a little odd) turned back to Ethan.

He was glad that he had run into Ethan here at school. They had been pretty good youth group pals back in middle school.

Ethan had gradually drifted away from church during high school but it had been great to rekindle their friendship here at college.

This semester they sat side by side in Human Physiology 205. Willie and Ethan nodded a brief farewell to Nick and sauntered toward the side door.

Exiting the cool relative darkness of the Science Building, Willie followed Ethan through the door and out into the glaring mid-morning sunlight.

The two squinted against the glare, as, blinded, Ethan collided with Myke, who squawked out a warning, “Dude!” as he staggered back from the impact.

Myke, who had been hovering directly outside of the door, was a bit of an enigma. Not only was he not enrolled in their physiology class, but he did not seem to be attending any college classes that semester.

Nevertheless, he always seemed to be hanging around. He joined them and the three young men strolled slightly downhill, cutting across the lawn and toward the computer lab.“‘You see, I know this guy who knows a guy. Sometimes, for certain people, for certain monetary considerations he can obtain certain… information.'”

Their conversation turned toward the upcoming physiology exam. Willie bemoaned the prospect of the wasted weekend spent trying to comprehend, and then memorize negative feedback mechanisms.

Ethan echoed his distress, “My brain is full. If I try to stuff one more thing into it, something equally as important will get pushed out, this is just not fair.”

“Oh, I never worry about things like that”, laughed Myke. “Life is way too short.”

“Did you take human physiology?” queried Ethan.

“Aced it.”

“And you didn’t study negative feedback mechanisms?”

“Pfffpt,” Myke scoffed with a knowing smile. “No way, man.”

“And just how, pray tell, did you manage that miraculous feat?”

The smile slid from Myke’s face as his eyes narrowed, “There are ways.”

Willie said nothing. He was a little disturbed at the direction this conversation was heading. It made him feel uncomfortable. Ethan spoke up, “Such as?”

Myke looked around. The only person within possible earshot was Nick, who had his earbuds plugged in. His head was bobbing up and down, apparently to the rhythm of the music reverberating within his cranium.

He was peering down at his phone, clearly oblivious to everything else around him. Myke smirked at the sight and shrugged his shoulders dramatically.“Willie’s mouth opened, but nothing came out. His mind was racing. ‘This is wrong. No way. It’s wrong, but it is such a big test. Such a hard subject. No, it’s wrong. But no one would ever know. Maybe just this once…'”

“You see, I know this guy who knows a guy. Sometimes, for certain people, for certain monetary considerations he can obtain certain… information.”

“Such as?” Ethan pressed him.

Myke looked around again, and the other two followed his gaze. Once again there was only Nick several steps behind them, still clearly mesmerized by his phone. Myke snickered as he almost walked into a telephone pole. “What a dweeb.”

His eyes swiveled back to Willie and Ethan, and he replied levelly, “Such as the answer sheet for the Physiology 205 mid-term on Tuesday.”

Willie and Ethan turned to look at each other, then as one, turned back to face Myke.

Willie’s mouth opened, but nothing came out. His mind was racing. This is wrong. No way. It’s wrong, but it is such a big test. Such a hard subject. No, it’s wrong. But no one would ever know. Maybe just this once…

He opened his mouth a second time and was about to speak when Ethan piped up. “How much of a monetary consideration would this friend of a friend of yours be asking for?”

He was thinking that maybe there was hope for this weekend after all. Some of the guys were going to the beach to hang out…Life really is way too short for endocrine feedback mechanisms.

“A hundred bucks,” Myke answered him, his smile returning. His gaze shifted back to Willie, “Each.”

It was two weeks later as Willie and Ethan sauntered toward their physiology class through a slight drizzle.

The whole scenario had gone off without a hitch. They had each given Myke one-hundred dollars cash, and he had in turn provided them each with a copy of the upcoming test, together with the answers.

Provided on paper. No email. No text. Nothing traceable. Neat and clean. Over and done. A one-time weekend-salvaging business transaction that had proven both a GPA booster and a stress reducer. Ethan couldn’t have been more pleased.

Willie was feeling a little down, however. His conscience was pricking him. So, he had aced the test, but there was no feeling of victory, no sense of accomplishment.“The whole scenario had gone off without a hitch. They had each given Myke one-hundred dollars cash, and he had in turn provided them each with a copy of the upcoming test, together with the answers.”

He felt hollow and dried up inside. Admittedly, the boost in class grade was nice. It looked like he now had a good solid B average going into the second half of the semester.

The lecture today was on the Integumentary system. Interesting. Willie had never really pondered the fact that the skin was, in fact, the largest organ of the human body. Weird and a little gross.

The guys both noticed that Nick was missing from class. At the conclusion of the lecture, Professor O’Neil closed his book, pushing his glasses up on to the top of his head and pulling a paper out of his pocket, “I have a note here….”

Diligently, he searched through his pockets for his glasses, finally locating them on the top of his head.

“William Doltson and Ethan McConnell, will you both please be so kind as to remain behind after class. Next lesson is on the lymphatic system. Read ahead please. Class is dismissed.”

As the rest of the class filed out, Willie and Ethan walked up to the front to speak with the Professor.

“What can we do for you, sir?” asked Ethan.

“Not really sure, not really sure.” The older man placed his right hand on top of his head, fruitlessly reaching for his glasses.“Willie and Ethan turned and obediently trailed after the professor down the hall and toward the dean’s office.”

Then, after groping through all of his pockets and finally locating them on the desk in front of him, he put them on and peered at the paper in question.

“I have a note from the office of Dean Waller instructing the three of us to meet him there at 10:30.”

He looked at his watch and sighed, “Cutting into my office hours…I cannot imagine what this could be about…well, it cannot be helped. Let’s go.”

Their eyes locking briefly, Willie and Ethan turned and obediently trailed after the professor down the hall and toward the dean’s office.

After a brief, forced attempt at small talk, they gave it up and lapsed into silence. Arriving in the outer office, they encountered Mrs. Carringer, secretary to the dean, who greeted them coolly.

“Mr. Doltson and Mr. McConnell, please be seated for a moment. Professor O’Neil, please go right in.”

She then turned back to her work, her keyboard furiously clacking as she studiously ignored them.

The young men sat in what otherwise would have been an uncomfortable silence. They could hear a mumble of garbled voices coming from the inner office but could make out nothing.

After about ten minutes the door opened, and to their surprise and alarm, out walked Myke. He was wearing handcuffs and in the custody of a uniformed officer from the campus police who maintained a grasp on his upper arm.

The two strode past Willie and Ethan, and out into the hall. Myke did not acknowledge their presence, appearing not to notice them as he was led by.

Dean Waller appeared at the door. “Gentlemen, please come in here.”“‘I am horrified and shocked. I’ll admit, you are very skillful. I didn’t suspect you two for a moment.’”

Numbly, they complied, timidly shuffling into the inner office. In addition to the dean, there were two other men inside. Professor O’Neil was sitting back in a chair looking grim.

His arms were crossed, and he was tapping his left shoulder with the pair of glasses that he held in his right hand. As they entered, he raised a withering, almost tearful gaze toward them, and then shook his head sadly.

“I am horrified and shocked. I’ll admit, you are very skillful. I didn’t suspect you two for a moment.”

The third man had been leaning over the desk filling out some official looking paperwork. As he straightened up, they saw it was Nick, from class.

Nick, however, in addition to his typical jeans and t-shirt attire, was wearing a thin chain around his neck from which there dangled a golden colored, official looking, metal badge.

As he turned, they saw that he also had a handgun in a holster strapped to his belt.

He spoke. “Gentlemen, I am Detective Nick Moggster from the State Bureau of Investigation. I have been on temporary assignment assisting the University Police Department with an investigation into a professional cheating ring. I’ve been undercover in your class all semester trying to get a lead on that Myke Oakenburry rascal. It looks like I finally have enough evidence to arrest him and charge him with conspiracy and fraud.”

Amazed, Willie and Ethan goggled at him.

“Now, I understand that you two participated in this crime only at the lowest possible level. I am not arresting you…at this time, but don’t leave town. I suspect that you will be facing significant repercussions with Dean Waller and Professor O’Neil as things stand.”“Willie had a sick, metallic taste in his mouth. His face felt hot and flushed. He felt weak and nauseated.”

Neither Willie nor Ethan replied, staring downward at the floor in shocked silence as Nick gathered up his paperwork. He then strode confidently out of the office, nodding politely toward the two older men, “Gentlemen.”

Ethan’s mind was running a million miles a minute. “How can I get of this? It doesn’t look like things are going any further with the police. How could I have been so stupid to have trusted Myke? What lousy timing! The one time I do this, and there is a police investigation. Seriously? How could I possibly have such bad luck. Will they kick me out of school? This is not really my fault! I wonder how much they can actually prove?”

Dissimilarly, Willie had a sick, metallic taste in his mouth. His face felt hot and flushed. He felt weak and nauseated.

There went any chance of sharing the gospel of Christ with Ethan, or Professor O’Neil, or even Nick for that matter. There was that outreach event planned on Friday for the Evangelical Student Union.

“I guess I’ll do them a favor and just stay away. How will Mom and Dad feel? What will the kids at church think; the ones in the youth group? I’m supposed to be a role model to them! What will Pastor think?” he staggered to a chair and collapsed into it, he wanted to throw up. He wished a hole would open in the floor and swallow him up.

The Lesson


Unless Ethan has a change of heart, he is headed for disaster. He is sorry only that he was caught and is worried about how he will be affected. He is experiencing worldly sorrow.

Willie is much closer to being on the right track. There is a lot more hope for him. He is beginning to experience Godly sorrow. He is concerned about how his sin will affect the feelings and spiritual welfare of others, and how they view Jesus Christ. He is realizing the horror of his besmirched Christian testimony. This is the type of sorrow spoken of in the seventh chapter of Second Corinthians – the Godly sorrow that leads to repentance.

10) For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

11) For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.2 Corinthians 7:10-11(KJV)

Next time:  Spider bites – Godly Sorrow Part 2

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