Community, this morning as I speak, there are many of you dealing with the traumatic aftermath of Hurricane Florence. With loss of property, flooding, no power and having to be rescued and eat non-perishable items for days the majority of us living in and around Scotland County are experiencing things we have never experienced before; and as a result there are many children and adults who are dealing with “post-traumatic stress” … emotions are swirling as people just don’t know what to do.
And the thing about it all is it that Hurricane Florence was not color blind; it affected Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and every race of people that live in Scotland County. We all were affected regardless to where we live, what our religious background is, our social standing or how much money we have; in this we stand shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart and hand in hand; and we are stronger than that.
Last week I told us we have to learn how to bounce back; I told us about athletes who gets knocked down but bounce back stronger than they were before; I talked about those who overcome the odds and find a way to win; that for those of us who are in Christ we have a power source.Community, that’s us.
And I also talked about those of us who fail or fall short but through forgiveness we can still do effective service for the Lord. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, finds himself right smack in the middle of failure or what we call a letdown; because you can’t get no lower than to deny the Lord Jesus himself. But Jesus had told Peter that this would happen (Matt. 26:34).
Peter says to the Lord, “Though I should die with you, yet will I never deny you.” Later we find that Peter indeed did deny Jesus to the point where he began to curse and swear (Matt. 26:74). But when he did, immediately the rooster crowed and Peter remembered the words of Jesus … and he went out and wept bitterly (verse 75).
Now community, put yourself in Peter’s shoes. You had been with Jesus for 3½ years; you witnessed some of the greatest miracles that human eyes could see; you were one of the inner circle disciples; imagine if you had been with him day in and day out; you shared meals with him; ya’ll laughed together and fellowshipped together and you loved him; and then in the most crucial time in his life when he needed you the most, to deny him is one of the greatest let downs that a person could feel.
But if Peter was going to be all that he should be; and be what God wanted him to be, he had to learn how to “bounce back!” He could not stay in the ditch that he was in.
Somebody who is in a hole today needs to hear this; don’t let your past consume your future; and don’t let mistakes and failures bind you up; there is still greatness in you; God don’t see you for who you are; he sees you for what you can be! Don’t let grass grow under your feet; don’t allow guilt, failure and discouragement to put you in a corner; “bounce back!” Get up from there and try again!
Peter, in a sense, turned his back on the Lord. But after Jesus was risen from the dead he showed himself to the disciples for the third time (John 21:14). It is then that he restored Peter. Since Peter denied his Lord three times, Jesus asked him three personal questions (John 21:15-18). He also gave him a threefold commission that restored Peter to his ministry. And God used him to win 3,000 souls to the body of Christ (Acts 2:41).
Community, I don’t care how great a person is or how spiritual they are or how much they know the Bible, they can fall! But God’s grace and forgiveness will restore the repentant heart. For he is the God of another chance! So if you have messed up one more time; you fell off the wagon; in a moment of temptation you gave in and by your actions you denied the Lord; by the grace of God you too can “bounce back!”
Community, I know our hearts are broken right now; Hurricane Florence has hit us hard; with little money, slow progress, limited supplies and some having lost their most precious possessions; plus having to be evacuated to shelters with strangers can be so discouraging; but it ought not be said that Rocky Balboa can bounce back and we can’t bounce back!
It ought not be said that football teams, basketball teams and baseball teams can bounce back but we can’t bounce back; it ought not be said that the world can bounce back and we can’t bounce back; they crucified our savior; but when he rose from the dead and declared “All power is given to me in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18b)” this was the greatest “bounce back” in human history.
We are the “bounce back” community! What’s coming is better than what’s been! We can’t feel sorry for ourselves; we are resilient; with God on our side things will work out fine; I know it’s bad; but it could be worse! Stuff and things can be replaced; but we have the greatest gift, the gift of life; be encouraged my beloved community, we will “bounce back!”
Rev. George Ellis is the pastor at Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church.