Column by Manning Pastor Sam Livingston: The great comeback


Everybody loves a great story about a character who lost everything or was written off as a disappointment but somehow made a remarkable return. We see athletes like Michael Jordan, who was removed or cut from his high school varsity basketball team. Jordan went on to win a college championship, Olympic gold medal and six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls. We have Tom Brady, who was selected 199th overall by the New England Patriots and was expected to have a mediocre career in the NFL. Brady spent 20 years with the Patriots, taking them to nine Super Bowls and winning six of them. Brady was passed on as a player who had reached his pinnacle, only to be picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He won his seventh Super Bowl championship the first year with the team.

My point here is that we love to see people advance in spite of the adversities faced. The key to succeeding while plagued with adversity is one's ability to self-motivate. What we hear can become our reality only if we allow it to. If what you hear is condescending, rejecting or words of exclusion, you must combat those words designed to destroy you, with the will to win. People go out and commit suicide because they hear over and over again that they are a complete failure. Others go out and perform a mass shooting because they reached the boiling point of bullying. Psychiatrists spend hundreds of hours treating mental disorders to proactively change the direction of troubled individuals.

We should have individual goals to help those who have been pushed into believing that life is over for them. The average person is one word away from failure or success. Take two simple words, "come" and "out." In the heat of the moment, the calmer person could easily say, "Come sit down; let's discuss this and determine the best course of action to take." This simple word, "come," could help the frustrated person to turn everything around and launch the greatest comeback in his or her life. On the other hand, during the heat of the moment, the person who has the keys to change the course could say, "Get out of my office, and don't ever come back." This may have been the last opportunity to save the other person from engaging in something destructive.

Think of it this way. Every day we are given a mind full of words that have the ability to play a major part in the lives of others. We are tasked with determining what words to use to generate a positive outcome for the recipients. Some of these phrases are general like, "You are somebody and you are loved, you can do this, believe in yourself, have faith because God is able, or do it for your loved ones." In any card game, only certain cards can contribute to a winning hand. Such is life; we must choose the right words to help others succeed. We all should be tired of the evil crime reports that we hear about daily. I for one want to hear more comeback stories about those who pulled themselves up from their bootstraps and relaunched their lives.

A few thousand years ago, a group hung a young man between two thieves and watched them all die. They wanted to send a message to anyone who believed in this man. The end, however, did not turn out as planned for the murderers. "After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." John 19:28-30

This man, Jesus Christ, was crucified on a rugged cross where he died and was placed in a borrowed grave. Everyone thought that it was over for him. Then something miraculous happened. And the angel answered and said unto the women, "Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you." Matthew 28:5-7

The greatest comeback of all time!

Sam Livingston is pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Manning.