The Comeback Kid
March 18, 1990
As the morning light broke across the horizon, men began to stir all over the prison compound. In a corner cell, heavily guarded and barricaded behind an enormous iron door, another man heard the noises and woke with a start.
He had been dreaming of other, better days. Dreams of sunshine and blue sky, of bright flowers and green trees, dreams of a life long gone. He had dreamt of childhood days, of strong young men and beautiful young women. Dreaming of what had been and of what might have been.
He awoke to the sound of harsh reality. From somewhere across the compound came a muffled curse and another one. He heard the sound of tired feet shuffling, rusty iron gates opening and closing, the guards’ slow, methodical walk toward the central guard tower. He groped in the darkness, reaching for his sandals. Finding them, he put them on, wrapping the thongs around his ankles. Feeling carefully for the wall, he stood up.
He looked awful. He was thinner now, prison food being what it was. His face was covered with a stubbly growth of beard. His hair—what there was of it—was matted and dirty.
Slowly now, he felt along the wall until he found the corner and then followed the wall until he came to the door. He waited at the door for someone to come.
When he felt the sun on his face, he reached up to rub the sleep out of his eyes. Then he remembered—he didn’t have any eyes.
For Samson, another day in prison had begun.
He never dreamed it would come to this. Not in his wildest dreams or his worst nightmares. Not in some fanciful, wild thought that would fly through the mind in the middle of the night. Never did he think it would come to this.
Samson—Mightiest man of Israel.
Samson—Hero of his people.
Samson—Deliverer of the nation.
In prison … in chains … in Gaza … in Philistine territory. He never dreamed it would happen to him.
Oh, it seemed like such a long time ago, such a long, long time ago that the angel had appeared to his parents with the good news, “You’re going to have a son.”
The angel had said, “This boy is going to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from the day of his birth.” That part Samson could live with. But it was the other thing the angel had said, “He will begin to deliver the people of Israel.” That sentence, those words, burned like a hot iron into Samson’s mind. He could not get them out.
He … He! … He was meant by God to deliver his people. Over and over he repeated it in his mind … “Begin to deliver his people from the Philistines” … “Begin to deliver his people from the Philistines” … “Begin to deliver his people from the Philistines.”
In anger and rage he pounded on the walls of his cell, the hated words of self-condemnation ringing out as if to mock him. What a cruel joke! What a waste his life had been!
He remembered yesterday … and the day before yesterday … and the day before that. How the guards, those filthy Philistines, would open the door and come in laughing. Philistines! Laughing at him! Pushing and pulling and poking! The mighty Samson … now just a plaything.
“Come on Samson. Here, boy. Sit up, Samson. Do some tricks for us, Samson.”
They took him out to the courtyard and hooked him up to the grain press. They tied his arms to that long wooden pole and said, “Push, Samson, push.” And so the great Samson pushed that long pole around in circles … in the courtyard … in the prison … in Gaza.
The Philistines loved it. Oh, how they loved it. “Push harder, donkey.” He pushed and he pushed and he pushed. All day long blind Samson pushed that pole around and around and around. Hour after hour, day after day, Samson pushed and listened to the taunts of the Philistines.
When the day was done, the guards untied his hands from the pole and bound him once again with bronze shackles, took him back to his cell and pushed him in, slamming the huge door behind him. “See you tomorrow, donkey. Sweet dreams, Samson.” He stumbled and fell, groping in the darkness for his mat, listening to the laughter and the receding noise of the guards walking toward freedom.
Kiss Of Death
How did it happen? How did a man who started so well end like that? How did a man empowered by the Spirit end up enslaved by the Philistines?
What was her name? What was that girl’s name? That one back there in Timnah. That was 20 years ago. Samson couldn’t ever remember her name.
What was that prostitute’s name? Who knows? You couldn’t believe her anyway if she told you her name.
Who was that other girl? Samson couldn’t forget her. Delilah. Oh, she was nice. You understand, don’t you? Delilah was nice. Cute, good-looking, with a smile that could light up a dark alley at midnight. Oh yes, Delilah was very nice. Soft and cuddly, and smooth to the touch, playful and feminine, seductive and … and … and sexy. Even in prison, Samson could appreciate Delilah.
He remembered … not just her face, not just the smooth touch of her hand, not just the bewitching smile. He remembered those long nights together. And the thought burned into his mind. Delilah! Delilah! Delilah!
Please understand something. Samson never meant to end like this! Do you understand that? Samson never meant to end up in prison. He never dreamed it would come to that.
To him, Delilah was just the latest in a long string of Philistine girl friends. She was the last and the best.
Samson just found a woman and fell in love with her. That’s all. The fact that she was a Philistine didn’t matter. The heart has its reasons.
And so what? He had defeated the Philistines. Not once. But over and over again. For 20 years the mighty Samson had kept the Philistines at bay, kept them in their own country, kept them away from Israel. He—and he alone—had done it.
Can you blame a man after 20 years for falling in love with the wrong woman? He didn’t mean any harm. That was the galling part. Samson didn’t mean any harm.
She was cute and witty and she crinkled up her nose at him. She had the biggest, widest eyes he had ever seen and when she looked at him, straight in the face, with the corners of her lips just slightly turned up, almost a pout and almost a grin, when she did that, something deep inside him stirred, and he couldn’t help himself. His heart belonged to her.
She knew it and he knew it. They both knew it and both felt that this was meant to be.
But whatever you do, don’t lay it on Samson that he meant to fall for her. It just happened. And he had no reason—NO REASON—to think or even to dream that Delilah would be his undoing. After all those other Philistine women, you know, a quick weekend romance, zip into town, do your thing, and then head out the back door before the guys with the iron spears found out you had been there. Samson was pretty good at that, actually.
He didn’t even know how many there had been over the years. But a few here and there. And he never got caught.
Delilah had been different from the first. She was cute and exciting and a challenge to him. She knew how to catch him off-guard and how to make him blush. Not too many Philistine girls could do that, but Delilah could. She understood how to seduce a man from Israel.
You couldn’t be crass or gross, they wouldn’t go for that. You couldn’t get into some big religious discussion because the Israelites were touchy on that point. So you mostly just left religion out of it. But their men were suckers for a good story and they loved to be teased. In fact, the bigger they were, the easier it was to tease them into bed with you.
Something like that had happened to Samson. He fell in love with Delilah. Then she began to play that dumb little game with him: “Tell me the secret of your power.” “Tell me so I can tie you up and you can be subdued.” Samson thought it was just a lover’s game, a little bedroom entertainment, a silly diversion to help pass the time.
Sure, he would humor her. Why not? It was all in fun. Or so he thought.
So he told her one thing … and then he told her another thing … and then he told her another thing. Just teasing around, really. Samson meant no harm by it. To him, it was a kind of intellectual foreplay. Nothing serious.
Finally, he blurts out the secret. Then he lays down to take a nap. The first thing you know, she’s rubbing his cheeks, caressing his head, rubbing his eyelids, telling little sweet nothings, silly promises made with a giggle. Samson smiles and drifts off to sleep.
When he woke up, his hair was gone. He looked around and saw the room full of Philistine soldiers. Up he went, ready to fight, ready to kill. He took a mighty swing, one that in the old days would have killed 10 men. This swing kills no one. He picks up a spear to thrust it but it feels strangely heavy in his hands.
Suddenly it came to him, in one blinding moment of truth. His power was gone. He reached for his hair … but it wasn’t there. Then he remembered that silly game he had played with Delilah.
Now Samson was like any ordinary man. Now the Philistines close in. Now the day of revenge has come. After 20 years of trying, the Philistines have got their man.
The Bible says it this way:
Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison. (Judges 16:21)
No one ever said the Philistines were nice people. They weren’t. When they finally got Samson, they meant to make him pay dearly for all he had done to them.
They took a hot poker and shoved it into his right eye. Then they shoved it into his left eye. They poked his eyes out, leaving him with hollow sockets. From that day onward, whenever anyone saw Samson, they would see in his hollow sockets the marks of his unfaithfulness to God.
They had taken Samson, now humbled and humiliated, to the prison in Gaza where he was reduced to grinding corn like a donkey. Day after day, week after week, month after month.
Samson’s Two Spiritual Flaws
Again the question comes: “What was it with Samson that made him end up like this? Samson had it all. How could this happen to him?”
There are at least two answers to that question:
1. He never appreciated his spiritual heritage.
In the beginning he had godly parents and a godly family and a godly calling. He knew the will of God and he knew the Word of God. He knew exactly what God wanted him to do. He had an angel show up to personally announce what he was supposed to do. Plus he had good looks and a winning personality and enormous leadership ability. Samson inspired people. He was born for greatness. Samson had it all!!!
But he never appreciated what he had. Because he never appreciated all that God had given him, he dillied and he dallied; he went this way and that way; he messed around with lesser things and in the process he basically frittered his life away.
That can happen to any of us. Not long ago a woman came up to me and said she had been listening to my messages on Samson. Then she said that about nine years Dr. Gerig preached a message on the dangers of drifting away. She heard the message and that day she came back to God. She said, “I graduated from Wheaton College and I had drifted away from God.”
It doesn’t matter whether you’re from Moody or Wheaton or Trinity or whether you attended this church all your life. It doesn’t matter what’s on your spiritual resume, if you don’t appreciate what God has given you, you are doomed to repeat Samson’s fatal mistake.
In fact, the “better” your background, the more likely you are to do the same thing Samson did. The more you’ve been given, the greater the punishment for neglecting it.
2. He couldn’t control his emotions.
This is a key point. When we read Samson’s story, we tend to think that his problem was all in the sexual area. Actually, his problem is not in the sexual area at all. His most basic problem was that he never learned how to control his emotions.
First he is filled with lust and then he is filled with anger. Then he’s full of lust again, then anger again, and then lust and then anger again. He’s riding an emotional roller-coaster, from the peak to the valley and around a sharp corner, and then he does it all over again. He’s over here, then over there, then over here again. That’s why he continually would get out of trouble, then get right back into trouble again.
He never learned to control his emotions and so they controlled him completely. Proverbs 16:32 could have been written about Samson: “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” In his day Samson had taken more than one city. But he never learned to control his temper. He never learned how to rule his spirit. He never knew the first thing about self-control. In the end his runaway emotions ran away with him.
The Circus Comes To Town
But today was going to be a different kind of day. Back at the prison in Gaza things were stirring. And Samson, his ears attuned to the slight differences he had long since learned to recognize, heard the purposeful sound of a man coming to get him.
The footsteps stopped at the door of his cell. The door swung open and Samson felt the sunlight in his eye sockets. “What is it? Who is it? What do you want?” A voice barked back, “Samson. You. Get out of here. You’re coming with me.”
Hands grabbed him and began pulling him forward. Another hand on his neck, roughly pushing his head down so he won’t hit it on the iron door frame. “What do you want? Where are you taking me?” There is anger in his voice … and fear.
Samson thinks he’s going back to the gristmill. But no, not this time. This time they are taking him outside the prison walls. Four soldiers half-lead, half-drag the blind, pathetic Samson. From around him he hears voices, softly buzzing, then louder and louder yet. It seems as if they have entered another building. But what? And where?
More noise now. Shouts, cheers, clapping. He must be in some kind of arena. There must be some show going on. But what could it be?
Suddenly they stop, Samson hears the jangling of keys, a door opens, and the crowd noise deafens him. A push from behind, sand under his feet, more noise, cheering, shouting. “Samson, Samson, Samson.”
Then another cheer, almost a prayer, a victory shout by the Philistines: “Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.”
Our god! The Philistines are talking about Dagon! Dagon had defeated Samson, the representative of Yahweh, the God of Israel. If Dagon had defeated Samson, then Dagon had defeated Yahweh!
“Roll Over, Samson!”
Suddenly it was all clear. They had taken Samson to the Temple of Dagon in Gaza, the holiest spot in the Philistine religion. Dagon was the god of the harvest. Each year the Philistines offered sacrifices to him when they planted their seeds. Every year at harvest time they offered more sacrifices to thank Dagon for his help.
The temple was built in two levels. The bottom level was an open arena with seats around it. The upper level was built over the lower section with a hole in the middle to let the people above watch the action in the arena. At one end was the pedestal with the statue of Dagon. Coming out from sides of the building were columns supporting the upper level. Evidently the upper level sloped a bit toward the center so that the bulk of the weight rested on two mighty columns near the center of the arena.
Hundreds of people would climb to the upper level so they could have a good view of whatever was going on in the arena. Which might be a concert or a speech or some kind of sporting event.
On this particular day the building was jammed. In fact, there were hundreds down below and 3,000 Philistines on the roof. Men, women, children, they had come to see their latest catch. They had come to see Samson.
The Bible says the he “performed” for them. Samson is unshackled and led out into the middle of the arena. He looks like a wild man—emaciated, dirty, matted beard, dressed in prison rags, long fingernails, dark sockets where his eyes should have been. And hair! Yes! His hair was growing back. Not much yet. But some, an inch or two or three.
Samson gropes in the darkness and a wave of laughter swept through the crowd. “Jump, Samson, jump!” And he jumped. “Run, Samson!” And he ran. “Bark, Samson!” And he barked. “Roll over, Samson!” And like a dog, the mighty Samson rolls over.
In his mind, something strange begins to happen. Out in the middle of that vast arena, performing for the Philistines, words long forgotten come back to him. “You will begin to deliver your people from the Philistines.” While he is jumping and barking and rolling on the ground, in his utter humiliation the words of the angel come back to him. “You Samson—yes you—will begin to deliver your people.”
It is almost like a dream. But God is speaking to him again. The minutes pass and eventually the crowd wearies of its cruel game. Another act comes out in the arena as Samson picks himself off the sandy floor and makes his way to the side.
So little did they fear Samson that they let a little ten-year old boy lead him to the side. In that moment an idea, a wild thought, a wisp of dream floats through his mind. Slowly, carefully, he reaches to feel his hair. Yes! His hair is growing back. Is it possible? Could it be?
Samson asks the servant boy to lean him up against those two great columns that support the upper deck. They are vast, so large no human could put his arms fully around them.
No one knows what is about to happen. Even Samson doesn’t know for sure. Will his strength come back one last time? There is only one way to find out.
This is his prayer:
O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, And let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes. (Judges 16:28)
I probably don’t even need to say that this isn’t the noblest prayer in the Bible. To the very end, Samson is thinking only of himself, not of his people. He is motivated primarily by revenge.
And yet there is something about his prayer that gets God’s attention. It may not be noble but it is totally sincere and if God answers it, it will cost Samson his life. Give him that much. He prayed and then he paid the price.
The End Of The Story
With one arm he braced himself on the left; with the other arm he braced himself on the right. No one is looking at him, no one pays him any attention, no one dreams of the nightmare that is about to happen.
Now he begins to press against those massive stone pillars. For a moment nothing happens; then the foundation begins to crack. A look of wild ecstasy crosses Samson’s fevered face. The guards rush toward him but it is too late. Already the timbers are crashing around them. Screams, noise, confusion, dust, panic, and through it all, the voice of Samson crying out his final prayer to God, “Let me die with the Philistines.”
The columns bulge and break, then crumble to the ground. There is a sound like a small explosion and the arena disappears in a cloud of dust. Samson lies at the bottom of the pile of rubble. There is dirt and blood and jagged stones, his body crushed by the force of the left column falling in upon him. Samson is dead, his eyes frozen open; upon his lips blood and the trace of a smile.
It is the supreme irony of this story that as Samson had made his bed with the Philistine women, he now chooses to die with them. In life and in death, he cannot be separated from them.
They thought by capturing him to put an end to him. They did, but in his death he killed more than he did while he was alive.
Did Samson Commit Suicide?
There are people who, having heard this story ask the question, Did Samson commit suicide? No he didn’t commit suicide. Samson at this point is coming back to God. He’s like the general who knows the only way to win the victory is to lead his troops into battle, even though for him it means certain death.
His prayer was simple: “O God, remember me.” Do you understand what that prayer means? The prayer means “Lord, I belonged to you at the beginning. Lord, I wandered away. I made some stupid mistakes. I blew it, Lord. O God, I deserve everything that has happened to me. Lord, will you just this one time remember me?”
Samson, now looks up into heaven and the people don’t understand because he’s standing under the roof. And the crowd is chanting, “Samson, Samson, Jew boy, Samson.” He pushes against those massive stone pillars, and as he pushes he cries out, “O God, give me strength one more time.” And he pushes and he pushes and pushes and the columns begin to crack. They begin to shake. Suddenly the columns begin to come down. From the top of the roof a scream of terror and the whole thing caves in.
In a moment 3,000 people go out to meet their Maker.
And there in the midst of the rubble is the dead body of Samson.
And the Bible says, “He killed more in his death than he did in his life.”(16:30) That’s one of the best verses of the whole Bible. It’s the final detail of Samson’s story. He killed more in his death than he did in his life.
Corrie Ten Boom
I want to ask you a question, “How far can a person go before God will not deal with him any more?” How far can you go? What if you get drunk? Is that too far? What if you start sleeping around? Is that too far? What if you steal money? Is that too far? What if you kill somebody? Is that too far? What if you cheat? What if you commit adultery? Is that too far? What if you have an abortion? Is that too far? How far can you go before God will say “I won’t mess with you anymore? You’re my child and I won’t mess with you anymore.”
Nobody knows the answer to that question. Because nobody has ever gone far enough to find out. Did you hear that? Nobody knows the answer to that question because nobody’s ever gone far enough to find out.
Do you remember the words of Corrie Ten Boom? People would ask her, “Corrie, how could you survive as a Christian in the prison camps? How could you survive in such a place? How could you live?” This was her answer: “There is no pit so deep that the love of God is not deeper still.”
How far can you go before God finally washes his hands and says, “Get away, you’ve gone too far for me?” I don’t know the answer to that question because nobody’s ever gone far enough. There’s no pit so deep that the love of God is not deeper still. No matter how far you run away from God, you can never go so far that God can’t find you.
The Hero Of The Story
You want to know the moral to this story? It’s not about Samson. The moral of this story is a moral about God. The hero of this story isn’t Samson. The hero is God. This passage is a lesson in the grace of God. How a man beaten and blinded, humiliated by his own repeated stupidity, reached the bottom, turned around and discovered God was right there waiting for him. Samson’s not the hero. There’s nothing heroic about Samson. All he did was turn around and find God. That’s all. God is the hero. He was there all along. What a story of the grace of God!
Some of us really need this story. We have gone pretty far down the road. Some of us labor under an incredible load of guilt. I’m talking to Christians now; not just to unbelievers. I’m talking to Christians who have things in your past that you feel awful about. Maybe you’ve come to church feeling dirty and unclean. In your heart you have a hard time praying because you’re really afraid to pray with all that stuff in the background.
Let me tell you the most important thing I know based on this passage. Restoration of fellowship with God does not depend upon your performance. How do I know that? Because Samson didn’t perform anything. He came back to God before he pushed those pillars down. He came back to God while he was still shackled. He came back to God while he was still blind and unkempt. He came back to God and God took him. There was no performance involved at all.
So many of us think we’ve got to clean up our act before God will take us back. We think we have to have our act together before we turn back to God. And God says, “Kiddo, you don’t understand what this is all about. This is about grace. You’re the one who messed things up in the first place. If you’ll just turn around, you’ll find I’m right there waiting for you.”
Just As I Am
Are you saying, “God won’t take me with dirty hands” That’s the only way he will take you. You sit there trying to clean your own hands, as if you could wipe away your own stains. Either you come to God like you are, or you don’t come at all.
Hymnwriter, Charlotte Elliott, put it this way: “Just as I am without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!” That’s the only way you can ever come to God—just as you are.
I like this story because it gives hope for people like you and me who have really blown it. Have you got skeletons in your closet? I’ve got a trunk full in mine. And God says, it doesn’t matter. If you’re waiting to get better, you’re going to wait forever. If you’re waiting to be cleaner, you’re going to wait forever. If you’re waiting until you can really do some good things, God says you’ll wait forever. Why don’t you turn around and come back right now? The moment you dare to turn your life back to God, in that moment, you will find he’s been there waiting for you all the time.
The Original Comeback Kid
Unfortunately, it took Samson a long time to figure that out. It takes most of us a long time to figure that out, too. Sometimes we’re stupid like Samson. We just make mistake after mistake after mistake until we finally hit rock bottom and we look up and God says, “My child, are you ready to come back? Because if you are, I’m ready.” And he takes us back.
Samson is the original comeback kid. He came back to God before he died. And in the end he killed more in his death than he did in his life. Samson—the comeback kid.
A Rhinestone Cowboy Comes Back To God
Several weeks ago at the NAE convention in Phoenix, I heard the testimony of another comeback kid. I was at a luncheon listening to a speaker when they introduced Glen Campbell to provide special music. I couldn’t believe it. He’s the man who recorded “Gentle on my Mind,” “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.”
I had heard that Glen Campbell had become a Christian but I didn’t know any of the details. After he sang a few songs, he told us his story. He said, “I was raised down in Arkansas in a Christian home. I was number seven of eight boys and then there were four girls besides. Every one of us were breast fed and so whenever mama went to church we had to go with her if we wanted to eat. We went to church together every Sunday. I remember I learned verses when I was growing up. The second song I ever learned—I was three years old—was “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” The first verse I ever memorized was Matthew 5:17, “I come not to destroy but to fulfill.” I had a Godly heritage and I was raised in the church, but somewhere along the way I slipped away from God.”
He went through three marriages. Then about ten years ago he had a highly publicized affair with Tanya Tucker. It was everywhere—People Magazine, The National Enquirer, all the gossip columns. In 1982 Glen Campbell met a born again Christian girl who danced with the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. She led him back to faith in Jesus Christ. A year later they were married. Ever since then he’s put Christian music on his albums and he’s given testimonies for Jesus Christ wherever he’s gone. As Glen Campbell told his story, he said, “I sure am glad he’s a loving, forgiving God.” Then he added these words, “It doesn’t matter if you’ve got everything in the world. Because if you don’t have Jesus Christ it’s all just wishing and blowing in the wind.” He was raised in the church. He drifted away. He hit the bottom. And now, he’s on fire for Jesus Christ. Glen Campbell—the comeback kid.
I share one final story with permission. Many of you know Pete Busack who has been part of this church for over 20 years. Some of you may also know that Pete has a younger brother named John.
Pete and John were raised in a Christian home and taken to a church where the Bible was taught. When John was in college at Western Michigan University, he used to come home on the weekends to Oak Park to be a part of the college group here at Calvary. This would be the early 70s. Our college group was called the Crusaders. It was made up of Moody students, West Sub nurses and then other assorted young singles.
John Busack liked the Crusaders so much that he would ride his bicycle from Kalamazoo to Oak Park. Pete told me that John would even arrange the schedule so he’d go through Gary, Indiana, about one or two in the morning so he wouldn’t get killed. He thought that was the most dangerous part of the trip. He would ride his bicycle to Oak Park, attend the Crusader’s meeting, and then ride his bicycle back. That’s unbelievable.
Eventually John married, had a wonderful family, and moved to upstate New York. During most of the 80s John was leading his own life. By his own testimony, even though John attended church regularly, somehow in his life he had never made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. By all outward appearances he was very religious. But somehow from childhood through the Crusaders through the years with his family, he never made a personal commitment of his life to Christ. He was drifting and wandering spiritually even though he was going to church almost every Sunday.
A Tailwind Century Ride
That began to change last summer when something awful happened. John developed a brain tumor. The doctors operated and felt they got the tumor in time to save his life. As often happens, that experience caused John to think seriously about spiritual things. About God and about his own life. And he was considering it during the fall. Just before Christmas, the worst thing that could possibly happen, happened. The brain tumor came back again. This time it was inoperable. The doctors never came out and flatly said, “There’s no hope.” But that was really the message. They never said it in so many words, but Pete said, “I think John knew he only had a few days left to live.”
The turning point in John’s life came in the first days of January. We don’t know how it happened, but a great spiritual turning point took place during the first week of January. On Saturday, January 6, John went to see his pastor in New York and said, “Pastor I want you to know even though I have cancer, something wonderful has happened. I have given my life to Jesus Christ.” Four days later he started chemotherapy—a desperate attempt to stop the inevitable. On the day that they started chemotherapy, John Busack wrote a little note to his brother, Pete. With Pete’s permission I share part of it with you.
Brother, thank you and all of your fellowship friends that showed me a good, good time whenever I came to visit from Kalamazoo years ago. It was witnessing those good people and those good times with nice people like Sally and Bonnie that kept the seed of Christ from dying within me. Now as a result of last fall’s health adventure, I have turned to Him. Have witnessed Him, praised and glorified in Him like I never would have imagined. It feels like an all downhill tailwind century ride … Hug everyone for me. Take care of yourself and we will see you for at least a weekend as soon as I am recommissioned to drive, I hope. Love, your maybe bigger little brother John.
That weekend never materialized because John Busak died in the wee hours of the morning on January 31. Pete told me the chemotherapy made him blind. But he could see better blind than he ever saw when he had his sight. That is the grace of God. John Busack—the comeback kid.
What About You?
So where are you this morning? Where are you with the Lord? Maybe you need to do what Samson did and say, “Lord, remember me.” Maybe you need to do what Glen Campbell did and give your life to Jesus Christ. Maybe you need to do what John Busack did and keep alive the seeds of Christ which were sown in your life years ago.
Some of you need to say yes to Jesus Christ for the very first time. You’ve heard it and heard it and heard it. Now will you come to Jesus Christ?
Most of you are more like Samson than you’d like to admit. You’ve been wondering, “Can I come back? Will God take me?” I just dropped by this morning to tell you this: God says, “Come on back.” He says, “No strings attached, no special deals.” He told me to tell you just come on back. And whatever you are and whatever you’ve been doing and wherever you’ve been living and hiding and sleeping, God says it doesn’t matter. God told me to tell you just come on back. He’ll take you back. I want to encourage you to do that this morning.
Calling All Comeback Kids
Maybe you could be the next comeback kid. Maybe you could be the next man or woman, boy or girl, or teenager to come back to God. Some of you this morning want to come back to God, but you are scared to death. God told me to tell you just to come on back. He’ll take you the way you are.
There are some adults here who need to come back to God. There are some Moms and Dads who need to come back to God. Some husbands, some wives. Some singles. Some teenagers. Visitors. Some of you have been members of this church for years, but you’ve drifted and drifted. God is saying, “Come on back.” You’ve never joined the church? It doesn’t matter. You can come back to God right now.
Would you like to be the next comeback kid? It can happen right now. God has already made the first move. The next move is up to you.
Heavenly father, help those who need to make a definite turning in their life to do it right now. Thank you for never giving up on us. Help us to see that you were there all along. In Jesus’ name, Amen.