Jesus, the Iowa State Cyclones and the Comeback Kids
I confessed on the blog yesterday that my mind occasionally wanders during worship.
But sometimes? That wandering ends up being the truest worship.
Take Sunday afternoon, for instance.
My favorite farmer and I attended a worship event with a few dozen friends. The music was great, the speaker was engaging, and the communion table was inviting.
But my mind kept wandering to a basketball game that we’d watched on TV the night before. Our beloved Cyclones were playing the Kansas Jayhawks for the Big 12 title. Around halftime, things were not looking good for our team. ISU was behind by 17 points.
Toward the beginning of the game, the announcers had been calling the Cyclones the Comeback Kids, because ISU had come from behind to win several of the previous games.
But as the game wore on, everyone’s optimism for a comeback seemed to fade. A Cyclone win seemed as probable as me pole-vaulting over our barn. Wasn’t gonna happen.
But then, everything changed. The Cyclones were unstoppable. They embarked on a 17-2 run against the Jayhawks. When the Cyclones won, our house — out here on the great plains of Iowa — erupted in ear-splitting cheers. (In a burst of althetic bravado and optimism, I wondered, briefly, where I might find a pole-vault stick.)
The game ended, and the Comeback Kids raised their Big 12 title trophy in the air. In that moment, I wanted to find every oversized, cardinal-and-gold cheer bow in the great State of Iowa, and clip it to the top of my head. Then I would run around the neighborhood doing herkies and toe-touches and spirit fingers, while shouting, “We are the Comeback Kids!!”
But then, I suddenly remembered where I was: the hushed sanctuary of a church.
Just then, it hit me. It hit me when I looked at the communion table in the front of the church.
We belong to the Comeback Kid. Jesus is the Comeback Kid.
More than 2,000 years ago, every ounce of hope had been lost. Jesus had been crucified. His followers scattered. The enemy laughed. His friends mourned. His body lay lifeless.
The scoreboard seemed to say this:
Devil – 1.
Jesus – 0.
All optimism faded. A comeback looked far worse than improbable. It looked impossible.
But that was Friday. Saturday was halftime. And Sunday was still to come.
And that’s when it happened — on a Sunday. One crazy act of God changed everything. And it changed us. Jesus rose from the dead as the greatest Comeback Kid in history.
That afternoon in church, we were invited to take part in communion. To me, the table looked like the victory feast of the Comeback Kid.
A long line of people walked down the center aisle to take part in that Victory Feast.
And because we know each other, we know each others’ stories. We know why everyone is celebrating, because we know what they’ve been saved from, and what they’re daily being saved from — broken marriages, addictions, despair.
Because of Jesus, we’re all Comeback Kids.
I don’t know what you’ve been rescued from. Or maybe you’re still waiting for a come-from-behind victory. Maybe something pretty big is dragging you down today. But I do know that even if you’re on the losing side today, this game ain’t over. Maybe you’re sitting in the halftime of your life, thinking it looks pretty hopeless, there in the middle of your diagnosis, your broken marriage, your tired nights, your door-slamming conversation with a wayward daughter.
Your trouble doesn’t have the last word on your life. Because you belong to the Comeback Kid.
Your win-loss record doesn’t define you. The scoreboard doesn’t own you. You think you’ve fouled out? Even THAT doesn’t determine the final outcome. The game has already been won by the Comeback Kid, your personal MVP.
The victory table has already been set. Come forward, and receive.
(And that Comeback Kid who rescued you long ago? He’s coming back again.)
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