It was January 3, 1993. The Buffalo Bills were playing the Houston Oilers in the NFL playoffs. The Oilers, led by quarterback Warren Moon, had built a 35-3 lead with two minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter. The Bills were without starting quarterback Jim Kelly who had been injured the week before against these same Oilers. To compound matters, running back Thurman Thomas was injured during the game. Things looked bleak for the Bills and their backup quarterback, Frank Reich.
But then something magical happened. In the next 17 minutes, the Buffalo Bills scored 35 points while the Oilers could only manage a single field goal, forcing the game into sudden death overtime. Steve Christie's 32 yard field goal in overtime gave the Bills the win, allowing them to move on in the playoffs and eventually play in their third of four straight Super Bowls. What an amazing comeback!
In preparation for my message this week, I am reading the story of the Israelites' battle against Ai (Joshua 8). In the previous chapter, we learn how the Israelites were defeated by the people of Ai because of the sin of Achan (read Joshua 7). Things seemed bleak for the Israelites. Fresh off their victory over the people of Jericho (Joshua 6), their hopes and dreams were shattered. Where was God? Had He led them to the Promised Land to die?
But there was indeed a comeback. Once the people had dealt with the sin, they received another promise from God - "I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land" (Joshua 8:1). From there the story unfolds of a great victory for God's people.
My friends, failure is not final. You may be facing the darkest moments of your life right now. You may face them in the days to come. You may find yourself in the place you are due to bad decisions or sinful disobedience. But God is in the restoration business. While you may have to deal with some of the consequences of your decisions, there is healing and hope. You can make a comeback if you humble yourself before God, confess your sins and / or poor choices, and in turn, receive His amazing grace and forgiveness. From there you can move forward in victory.
Sunday's outline? To make a comeback, you have to Contemplate God's Promises, Construct a God-sized Strategy, Commit Yourself to Obedience, and Celebrate Each New Victory.