Bouncing Back

2 Corinthians 3:17 declares, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” I want to live in that freedom, but to do that I must be willing to let the Holy Spirit flow through me. I can’t afford to be satisfied. Just this morning I read 1Thessalonians 4 in my devotional. Paul recognized what the church in Thessalonica had done but he said, “I urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to do even more.” (vs. 1, NLT)

Will I allow past failures to take me out, to get me off purpose? In 2Corinthians 4:1, Paul says, “We do not lose heart.” I like the way the New Living puts it: “We never give up.”

When our children were small they loved to play with Weebles. These are little plastic characters with rounded bottoms. No matter how many times you knocked them down, they pop right back up. Their motto; “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” I think we can take a lesson from the Weeble: when we fail, get back up. Bounce back.

There are many examples in the world of those who bounced back:
• Bill Gates failed in his first business venture, Traf-O-Data, but he went on to create Microsoft.
• Walt Disney was forced to declare bankruptcy early in his career.
• Albert Einstein was labeled slow learner in school.
• Winston Churchill failed the 6th grade.
• Elvis Presley was told to go back to driving a truck.
• The Beatles were told forget it, guitar music is on its way out.

Look at those in the Bible:
• Peter denied knowing Jesus but came back to be the leader of the early church.
• David committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged to have her husband killed, but he repented and went on to be a great king.
• Moses fled into the desert after murdering an Egyptian. At 80 years old, it looked life his life was wasted, but he came back.
• Paul the apostle described his life in 2Corinthians 11:24-27 (NIV): “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” That would certainly be enough for most of us to give up. However, Paul’s reaction was recorded in 2Corinthians 4:8-9: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” No matter what the devil threw at him, he bounced back.

In my own life, I have had to make the choice to not let defeat stop me from becoming who God wanted me to be:
• Our senior pastor died of cancer in his mid-50’s.
• At age 54, I was laid off from a company I had worked at for 22 years.
• Our son Paul and his fiancé Amy were killed by a drunk driver.

No matter how many times I am knocked down, I will get back up. Proverbs 24:16 says, the righteous may fall 7 times but rise again. I will fall; it’s going to happen. It is a reality of life. We must decide if we will hit bottom like an egg and lie there broken and defeated, will we bounce back to the same level only to repeat the same cycle or will we use that failure to launch into new heights, new challenges, new dreams? Character means I get back up. Proverbs 24:10 warns that to fail in time of adversity means my strength is small. If I am to stand, I must prepare beforehand.

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Let’s learn how to bounce back:
1. Recognize failure is not my destiny. Colossians 3:10 tells us we are created in the image of God. Is God a failure? I need to discover who I am in Christ. 2Timothy 1:7 promises God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. 1John 5:4 tells me I am born of God and therefore I can overcome whatever the devil puts in my path. My destiny is to overcome, to bounce back.
2. Keep a right perspective. Faith sees opportunity where the world sees problems. In the Old Testament, Joseph went through years of slavery and prison, but ultimately God lifted him up to a place of leadership. In Genesis 50:20, he tells his brothers, “What you meant for evil, God intended for good.” Romans 5:3-5 says, “Not only this, but Gill also rejoices in his sufferings, knowing that suffering works perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope: and hope doesn’t disappoint Gill, because God’s love has been poured out into his heart through the Holy Spirit who was given to Gill.” What is the right perspective with regards to trials? James 1:2 gives the answer, “Count it all joy”.
3. 100% committed. “I’ll try.” means you will take the first exit that comes along. “Guess it doesn’t work for me.” You weren’t committed. Luke 9:62 warns, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” When I was installing an underground sprinkler system in our home, I encountered one very large boulder. Could I let stop me? Could I afford to say, “Aw, I’ll just let that part of the lawn die.” Of course not. I dug around it. I must have the attitude toward God’s call that nothing will stop me. I don’t have a price. We have been married for 43 years. That only happened because we were 100% committed, no plan B. Divorce is not an option (murder perhaps?). “If she squeezes the toothpaste from the top one more time, I’m out of here.” “If he leaves his socks on the floor again, I’m done.” How silly. Commitment will rise above resistance. I have read that when a storm approaches, all other animals may hide, but the eagle heads into the storm. He uses the air currents to lift himself to higher levels. Commitment will cause us to soar.
4. Persistence. Have you heard, “By persistence the snail reached the ark.”? Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) encourages us, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Romans 8:37-39 promises, “No, in all these things, Gill is more than a conqueror through Him who loved him. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate Gill from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, Gill’s Lord.”
5. Be aware of the timing. My wife and I work weekly with a personal trainer. As I get more and more tired, I can look at the clock and encourage myself: “Less than 15 minutes to go, 4th quarter.” Let’s recognize that as Christians we are in the 4th quarter. It is time to sprint to the finish line. Ephesians 5:16 warns that we need to make the most of our time because the days are evil. How many drop out close to the finish? You might be right on the edge of your breakthrough. Edison tried over 1,000 filaments before he found one that worked. He said, “Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Let’s get a sense of urgency and finish strong.

Mat 24:13 promises that if we endure to the end, we will be saved. We don’t know when life’s defining moments will come, but if we establish a pattern of obedience, those moments will not catch us unprepared. Psalm 19:11 reminds us, “In obedience there is great reward.”

In my devotional recently I read 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT): “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” Focusing on what will last forever gives us the lift to bounce back.

Michael Jordan, one of the greatest professional basketball players of all time, was cut from his high school team. Michael Jordan spoke of his career: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.