Friday, December 30, 2016
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It's usually the most watched event of the Winter Olympics every four years: the women's figure skating competition. Let's go back in the time machine to the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy. A lot of America's hopes for a gold medal were riding on Sasha Cohen; especially after she managed a thin, first-place edge after the initial short program. Then came that decisive long skating program. Suddenly, all hopes of any medal seemed to disappear with a major fall that she had early in her program. The TV commentators actually said, "Well, now it's going to be a fight just be on the podium." With a major deficit in her score from her fall, Sasha Cohen could have easily lost heart, but she didn't. She fought back with a strong and impressive showing in the rest of her performance. When the rest of the world's best had all skated, the young woman who had fallen-who seemed to have forfeited any hope of being a champion-stood on that podium with a coveted silver medal.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Fallen Down But Finishing Strong."
There's someone listening today who knows the disappointment, and maybe even the shame, of a serious fall. Do you give up, or do you fight back? I could tell you which one Jesus is voting for.
You could look at what happened with Jesus' disciple, Simon Peter, to see what Jesus wants to do after you've failed. In Luke 5, beginning with verses 4-6, we see what happened after Simon's all-out fishing efforts had ended in a discouraging and total failure. Then Jesus came aboard and said, "'Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.' Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything.'" Translation: "Hey, I gave it my best shot. I failed. What's the use of trying again, Lord?" Maybe you know that feeling.
But the story doesn't end there. Simon said to Jesus, "But because You say so, I will let down the nets." Translation: "I feel like giving up, but I'm going to get back in the game for only one reason. Jesus wants me to." This time there's one big difference. Jesus is in command. The result? "They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break." Simon's greatest catch came right on the heels of one of his greatest fishing failures, because this time he's not in command. Jesus is.
Later, when this same man has shamefully failed his Savior by going AWOL when Jesus needed Him the most, he rebounds to great spiritual leadership-including the day he helped 3,000 people come to Jesus. Because Peter at the wheel ended up in his greatest crash, so in his shame, he gave Jesus the wheel, and Simon Peter finished a champion.
In the American League Championship Baseball Series back in 2004, Boston pitcher, Curt Schilling, lost the first game to the New York Yankees. Then came the decisive fourth game of the seven game series. He came back with this overpowering performance that sparked the Boston run to actually capturing the World Series. Just before that fourth game, he said he surrendered in a new way to the Savior he belonged to. He told the press, "In Game 1, you saw what Curt Schilling could do. In Game 4, you saw what God could do."
You've seen what you could do and it didn't have a happy ending did it. Now it's time to see what God can do. Jesus promises that "your sins and iniquities I will remember no more." (Hebrews 8:12) He's told us, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) Sounds like a fresh start, doesn't it-another chance? Simon failed, Moses failed, and yet God still had something very important for them to do for Him once they repented and surrendered their brokenness to Him. He wants to do that for you.
On the eve of this brand new year, it could be a brand new start. With Jesus, failure never has to be final. If you will, in the strength of Christ, fight back from your fall, you can still stand on heaven's podium and hear your Savior's cherished words, "Well done my good and faithful servant."