They were down 32 points. They needed 5 touchdowns to win. F-i-v-e. Everyone had written them off. The Houston Oilers had scored 21 unanswered points. This included an intercepted pass right before halftime that led to a touchdown, with the Oilers completely dominating the Buffalo Bills.
It was so bad, in fact, that most of the Bills fans left during the break, assuming the game was pretty much over. Their superstar quarterback, Jim Kelly, was out of the game, after all. Frank Reich was only the back-up QB. It simply wasn’t to be, they thought.
How wrong they were.
The Bills would come out of halftime to be scored on again by the Oilers. It would be the last touchdown the Oilers would score in the rest of the game. Reich and the Bills calmly went to work and scored 28 points in the third quarter. They went on to win in overtime, achieving the biggest comeback in the history of football.
Why do I share this story? Because I love a good comeback story. I think we all do. Most importantly, I believe God does. I think of someone like Gideon, who went from hiding in a wine press to leading the nation of Israel to victory. Or David against Goliath, who should have been devastated by Goliath’s superior strength and size. Only he wasn’t. Miraculously, he was the victor.
But my favorite stories center around Jesus. There’s the woman who bled and suffered for twelve years. She remained faithful somehow, and chose to believe in the Christ who miraculously healed her. Or the crippled man at the pool of Siloam; a paralytic since his childhood and devoid of hope, whom Jesus healed, changing the man's story forever.
Story after story is told of all sorts of people, young and old, getting their comeback. Their miraculous, come-from-behind victory. Too many names to mention here. And that’s just within the Bible. There are stories as numerous as the stars in the heavens. They span throughout all generations telling of God’s transforming power and his ability to turn someone’s life around, no matter how old, how lost or how broken.
The true miracle is that God's victory story is available to us all. To me. To you. To all who seek out the Creator. I firmly believe that the second half of my life will be even better than the first. That each “quarter” I get to play will have its ups and downs, but will ultimately lead to my victory in Christ.
Yes, I have had hurts and disappointments. Yes, I have been knocked down so hard I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get up again. Yet time and time again I have looked up in desperation only to see the hand of my loving father reaching to lift me up and place me back on my feet again. Instructing me so I learn to execute the next play more effectively.
I’ll be honest. I get angry when people say things like, “A tiger can’t change its stripes,” or “Some people just can’t change.” While it is true that a tiger can’t change its stripes, or that I can only change myself so much, in Christ I am not limited by the laws of nature or humans.
I follow an eternal, all-powerful, miraculous God who specializes in healing the hopeless, the broken and shamed. One who trains the tiger whom no one thought could be tamed until, lo and behold, that tiger is unrecognizably different. Beyond what anyone thought or imagined. There is nothing, NOTHING, that God can’t do. For me. For you.
Yes, I know I will always struggle. I have my on-going challenges; something Paul describes so eloquently in Romans 7. But here’s the thing. Rarely does a stripe change overnight. It’s a journey, a process.
One that starts at the foot of the cross, when Jesus’ incredible sacrifice for sin comes into crystal clear focus. When for the first time you realize how deeply you truly are loved. When you realize hope and redemption begin on your knees in humble gratitude. When you take your hands off the wheel of your life and begin letting God steer instead.
And the beauty? The true miracle? That the goal isn’t to play perfectly or gloriously the whole time. Your perfection isn’t required. The goal is to simply keep showing up to the very end so that God can deliver you to victory. The moment you currently find yourself in may feel like your defeat, your locker room half-time, or even your 4th quarter huddle with a broken and disheartened team. But it is not. Never forget. God is greater than your challenge, and his heart is FOR you.
The cross is proof that what the Creator most desires is your victory!
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT: As we approach Easter, take some time to deeply reflect on the incredible love Jesus has specifically for YOU! It's easy to sometimes take the cross for granted, or to think of Jesus' death in more generic terms for all of humanity. But the truth is, if you were the only human around Jesus would have still gone to the cross to save you alone. That's a powerful thought!
Spend some time meditating on Romans 5:7-9, inserting your name wherever I've add "you":
"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for [you] in this: While [you] were still sinner[ing], Christ died for [you]."
Ponder Romans 8:31f:
What, then, shall we say in response to these things?If God is for us,who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any chargeagainst those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
God loves YOU! He died for YOUR victory. This Easter, let His incredible love wash over you, and trust him to deliver your come-from-behind win.
PRAYER: Papa God, I am humbled and awed by your overwhelming, extravagant love for me. There is nothing you won't do to fight for my victory over this world. In deepest humility I thank you and praise your goodness. Jesus, you loved me enough to pay a debt I could never pay; to set me free from bondage and distress. Help me claim your victory in my life, and enable me to walk ever closer to you. In the might name of Jesus I pray, amen.
To learn more about author & motivational speaker Barb Lownsbury or to have her speak at your next event, CLICK HERE.
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