The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
Charlie Brown is up to bat. "STRIKE THREE!" He has struck out again and slumps down on the players’ bench. He says, "Rats! I’ll never be a big-league player. I just don’t have it! All my life I’ve dreamed of playing in the big leagues, but I know I’ll never make it."
Lucy turns to console him. "Charlie Brown, you’re thinking too far ahead. What you need to do is set yourself more immediate goals."
Charlie Brown looks up and asks, "Immediate goals?"
Lucy responds, "Yes. Start with this next inning when you go out to pitch. See if you can walk out to the mound without falling down."
Poor Charlie Brown: he represents all of us at some point in our lives. He is always in a slump. Most of us go through slumps in our lives, but not usually permanent ones.
I remember one of Charlie’s upbeat moments where he said something like, “I have learned the secret to success. Only dread one day at a time.”
Someone once said, “Slumps are like a soft bed. They're easy to get into and hard to get out of.”
Do you experience slumps from time to time? Perhaps your car broke down and you don’t have the money to repair it, or you can’t find a mechanic who can or will do the job. Perhaps one of your children has gotten into trouble and you can’t figure out how to get him out. It could be that your health has taken a dip and you don’t know if you will ever make a comeback. It could be that your job has taken a slump and you wonder if you will ever love it again. Some folks go through emotional slumps where they just can’t seem to get their attitude out of a rut. But one of the most frightening slumps is a spiritual one.
The Bible has numerous situations where biblical characters fall into a spiritual slump. Abraham went into a slump when he gave in to his wife’s suggestion for him to give up on God’s promise to give him and Sarah a child and to have a baby with her servant, Hagar. Jacob went into a slump when he deceived his father, tricking him out of his brother’s blessing. King Saul went into a never-ending slump when his jealousy led him to begin a vendetta against his servant and friend David with a plan to take his life. Moses went into a 40-year slump when he became angry with an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave and killed him. The slumps are too numerous to count.
In the 27th chapter of 1 Samuel, young David became so exasperated with avoiding the King’s constant pursuit of him and the attempts on his life, that fear and frustration took over his thoughts. He did something no one, even David, would have expected him to do. He went over to the enemy’s side. Even though he had fought the pesky Philistines many times in defense of his country, he went to one of the Philistine kings asking for protection agreeing even to defend his city and help him in war.
This was a dark time in the young future king’s life. He was in a serious slump, a spiritual slump. There is no way God could be happy with him. God would eventually lead him out of this slump and make him King as he had been promised. David would rise from smoldering ashes and once again be a defender of his people and a follower of his Lord God. But it would be painful.
Isaiah prophesied hundreds of years later to his people about their need for repentance, but to no avail. Their spiritual slump was headed downhill and would take at least a hundred years to get out. But he also prophesied about how that God would bring them out of their slump after they struck rock bottom by becoming slaves in Babylon. He told them that no matter how hard things got, God was there. Look with me at Isaiah 54:10,
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Even if your world falls apart and you are shaken in your desperate slump, God never forgets his people. He still loves us and always comes to our rescue when we need him most.
Jimmy Stewart shared the story about the filming of the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. “It’s hard to explain. I, for one, had things happen to me during the filming that never happened in any other picture I’ve made. In one scene, for example, George Bailey is faced with unjust criminal charges and, not knowing where to turn, ends up in a little roadside restaurant. He is unaware that most of the people in town are arduously praying for him. In this scene, at the lowest point in George Bailey’s life, Frank Capra was shooting a long shot of me slumped in despair. In agony I raise my eyes and, following the script, plead, ‘God . . . God . . . dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man, but if you’re up there and you can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope, Show me the way, God. . .’ As I said those words, I felt the loneliness, the hopelessness of people who had nowhere to turn, and my eyes filled with tears. I broke down sobbing. This was not planned at all, but the power of that prayer, the realization that our Father in heaven is there to help the hopeless, had reduced me to tears.” -Guideposts, December 2005, p. 82
Even in your deepest pain, the pit of your slump, God still cares. His people still care. He hears your prayers and their prayers on your behalf. He will lift you out of the mire of the spiritual mud hole that has engulfed you. He never forgets. He rescued Abraham, he brought back Jacob, he pulled David out of his slump several times, he reinvigorated and restored Moses to become a national and biblical hero and led the Israelites back to their homeland from slavery several times. He can bring you out of your slump if you will put yourself in his hands and turn back to him. Your greatest slump is God’s greatest opportunity to do something miraculous in your life.
He can make you the COMEBACK KID!
This Sunday we will continue our series of messages on When God Build’s a King How a lowly shepherd became a great king. This week’s message is One Step Forward; Two Steps Back based on 1 Samuel 27:1-12. I hope you will join us for a life inspiring move of God.
On the comeback with you,