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“The Pack is Back” topped the news headlines on January 27, 1997. The Green Bay Packers had won the Super Bowl for the first time in decades. The momentum of their comeback positioned the “Pack” for a “back-to-back” win in 1998. But football fans went wild when Denver Bronco’s quarterback, John Elway, played the comeback game of his life in what was believed to be his final chance for a Super Bowl win before retirement, and took the coveted Super Bowl trophy home to Denver. Everybody loves a comeback story. Abraham Lincoln ran for congress and lost, ran for the senate and lost, had a nervous breakdown and a troubled marriage; but he finally made it to the White House. George Foreman came back at fortyone years of age to become heavyweight champion of the world. Evander Holyfield, another world champion heavyweight boxer, had a serious health setback that threatened to end his career, but he came back to fight and win again. Moses, studying to be a great man of God, killed a man and ended up working at minimum wage for his father-in-law on the back side of the desert, but he came back and marched three million people out of Egypt. Joe Montana brought the San Francisco 49’ers back to victory. People love to cheer for the underdog. Look how many went to see Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky movies. Rocky came back so many times he finally wore out his comeback in that last movie in ’97! To be honest all of us experience setbacks in life at one point or another. Maybe as you are reading this, one of your children is in trouble or your finances are in crisis or your marriage is falling apart. Perhaps someone close to you is plagued by repeated setbacks, and you don’t know how to help. Whatever caused you to pick up this book, I want you to know, It’s Time for Your Comeback. In the midst of a setback, people often take a step back. Then another setback comes, and they take another step back. Before long they find themselves so far from where they want to be they just give up. They can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, and they are overcome by the darkness. Life is doing something with them instead of them doing something with life. If you are saying to yourself, “I’ve stepped back so far I don’t even remember where I started from,” just remember, no matter what took you off the yellow brick road, it’s not how you start something, it’s how you finish that counts. Even while you are feeling the sting of your setback, your comeback is already being prepared for you. What do you envision for yourself in the coming year? I am offering you an opportunity for smooth sailing. By applying the solid principles in this book, you are going to sail over life’s obstacles; and use these tools to raise the roof on your expectations — learn to dream again. Some of you have been living with four-foot ceilings when the sky is the limit. I envision a comeback with your name on it. Your life has a purpose and an assignment. You were created to live by design not by default. You are being positioned to accomplish your destiny. When you come up against adversity, you will run right on through it without drowning or being burned. Notice I didn’t say “if” adversity comes, I said “when” adversity comes. You’re probably asking, “Why do I have to go through the storms and trials?” Because somebody needs your test to turn into a testimony, and somebody needs your
mess to turn into a message. Remember, someone worse off than you is always watching you. Let me show you how to become a power of influence and leave a legacy of encouragement and accomplishment for others to follow. You may be at the point of giving up. You’re weary and you don’t know if you have the energy to start again. But listen to me, It’s Time for Your Comeback so don’t step back. It’s too soon to give up. There is always time for one more comeback, and it’s going to be a great one. Your limitations are your opportunities. You are a masterpiece in progress. What I am sharing with you in these power-packed chapters are the truths and principles that have brought me through pain and desperation in my own life. It only takes ONE to change a life, and I am forever thankful for that ONE in my life who encouraged me and set an example for me to follow. Allow me to start you on the path to your comeback right now. Don’t put this book down until you make a commitment to set aside a specific time and place to finish reading it. Whether it is five minutes a day or an hour a day doesn’t matter. Just do it! Read it again and again until you plant these principles and ideas in the depths of your heart. Your comeback is waiting for you!
THE STORY OF A COMEBACK
Do you find yourself asking, “Is there more to life than what I’m living?” If so, rejoice that you are experiencing “divine dissatisfaction.” You are being shaken out of complacency, out of your comfort zone, out of your “setback” mentality. Don’t ignore what you are feeling. It’s time to do a thorough housecleaning of all the junk in your life so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered. It’s time for your comeback.
Setbacks happen to everyone time after time throughout life. There is no escaping it. You may have suffered so much pain and trauma that you have become numb to the injuries caused by the setbacks. You may not have laughed in a long time. You may be angry because you’ve been abused, rejected, abandoned, stabbed in the back by a friend or family member, robbed or beaten. A friend, who is a NFL linebacker, was hit so hard in a playoff game it broke his thumb. He was so caught up in the intensity of the game he didn’t even know it was broken until eight plays later. His thumb was just dangling from his hand, and blood was everywhere when one of the other players noticed the injury. My friend’s adrenaline was so high he didn’t feel the pain. That is the way you may be. You don’t know you’ve been injured because you’ve been numbed by the trauma or else you’re living life in the fast lane, and you haven’t slowed down long enough to let yourself feel the pain.
Believe for Your Comeback
When you are in a setback, you have two choices: • sit in your setback, or • believe for your comeback. Do you know how many times I wanted to quit, to just sit back in my setback and wallow in self-pity, because I was tired of all the cheap shots and battles? Picture this. I’m walking through Dallas-Fort Worth Airport so tired my feet are dragging 10 steps behind me. This great motivator isn’t feeling good at all. My hair’s all whacked out. I’ve got my hat pulled down as far as it will go and my dark glasses on. I’m walking with my head down so I don’t have to see or talk to anybody. I was in one of those “don’t mess with me” moods. That’s right, even “Mr. Encourager” has those kind of days. Not often, but I’m being real with you. It takes a lot to get me that way because I am up 98 percent of the time, but I was not feeling good that day. A little lady comes running up to me calling, “Tim Storey, Tim Storey, Tim....” I’m thinking, “Oh no, not today.” So I say, “Yeah?” She says, “I don’t want to bother you, but....” Then she proceeds to share a remarkable story saying, “You were at a church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the place was packed to the rafters, over 6,500 people. I was sitting on the second row too weak to come forward, but your message and prayers became
my light at the end of the tunnel when I was dying of cancer. Tim, that was three years ago. They gave me three weeks to live, and I’m not dead!” What I want you to hear from this story is that in the midst of a setback people need hope. That’s why you can’t sit in your setback, because somebody needs you! I don’t care how far you think you have sunk into the pit of despair, how desperately you have failed, how tragic your circumstances are or how badly you are hurting; somebody needs your testimony to help them get out of their desperate setback. And the best way to get out of your own setback is to reach out to help someone else. Why do you think so many support groups have sprung up all over the country – Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, Parents Who Have Lost Children, Alzheimer’s Caregivers, etc.?
Turn Your Mess Into a Message
We’re in the inner city of Los Angeles doing something we call, “Hope for L.A.” A young crack dealer comes up for prayer. I watch him come up, and I see destiny inside all of that garbage on the outside. I say, “You, come here.” His eyes are bloodshot. He’s on crack. I say, “Why are you up here?” Out of his heart he starts screaming, “I don’t want to be a loser. I don’t want to be a loser. You said I can be a winner. All my life I’ve been a loser.” Tears began welling up in my eyes because I know what that feels like, to sit in a setback and cry, “Why, why, why....” He’s still screaming, “I don’t want to be a loser!” His life was radically changed the moment he started following the message of hope and inspiration! He got free from the drugs. He started following us around to other meetings. We continued to teach him and helped him get out of his setback. Now he is helping other inner city kids who need the mess of his past life to be a message for them.
Different but Better
There’s already a plan for your comeback that is greater than you could ever imagine. That plan is different than you may think because it holds a greater ultimate goal for your comeback. That’s why your comeback is not what you expect it to be. It’s even better. Dave Dravecky was an All-Star pitcher with the San Francisco Giants when cancer was diagnosed in his pitching arm. Dave and his wife, Jan, were devastated and prayed to get through this unexpected, monumental setback. Following surgery the doctors told Dave, “Short of a miracle, you’ll never pitch again.” Dave and Jan would not allow their faith to be shaken by this bad report. Dave fought back determined to make a comeback. Grueling physical therapy was required to train the other muscles in his arm to take over for the large deltoid muscle which had been removed with the tumor. Within three months Dave rejoined the Giants in spring training. Returning to the pitching mound in his first game to the roar of the crowd cheering, “Welcome back, Dave,” he bowed his head for a prayer of thanks and went on to pitch a winning game. If you have heard Dave’s story, you know his comeback was followed by another setback and then another and another. His pitching arm broke during the next game, and the cancer returned. Eventually his arm was amputated at the shoulder. Dave and Jan suffered through many physical and emotional losses, but they didn’t allow themselves to sit in their setbacks.
What they now know is that God was preparing a comeback that was very different from what they would have chosen or expected. Dave says, “Yes, I’d go through it all to get to where I am today. Because I know that through all of this I have become a better father, a better husband, a stronger Christian...just a better human being. God has changed me in ways I would have never thought possible.”1
Return to Significance
I don’t care where you are or how big a mess your life is, don’t step back — God has your comeback already prepared. You may get tired of my saying this so often, but you must get this firmly planted in your heart. A comeback means to return to a place of significance, to return to a place of stature, to return to a place that was lost for a period of time. Sometimes we need to hear about other people’s setbacks and comebacks so we can hold onto our own hope. Everyone messes up, even the great men and women in the Bible. • Abram told his wife, Sarai, to lie and tell the pharaoh she was Abram’s sister (Genesis 12:10-20), and yet God changed his name to Abraham and promised he would become the father of nations (Genesis 17). • Moses let anger get the best of him and killed a man (Exodus 2:11-15), and yet he led the people of Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 12:31-42). • Rahab was a prostitute, but she saved Joshua and Caleb (Joshua 2) and is listed in the lineage of David and Jesus (Matthew 1:6). • Peter cut off a man’s ear (John 18:10) and then denied Jesus (John 18:25-27). You know the other disciples must have thought, Peter, get with it. We thought you’d get it once you cut off that man’s ear. Now you’re denying Jesus and cussing folks out by the fire. God took away the shame, renewed Peter’s name and let him preach on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-47). God did the same for all the others, and He’ll do it for you too. So stop beating yourself up. See yourself and your faults and failures from a good father’s point of view, from a God’s eye view. God is a comeback kind of God.
Beating the Odds
Evander Holyfield is quick to say, “There’s no quit in me.” It’s that never-giveup attitude that has brought him back from two crushing defeats, making him a three-time heavyweight champion. He knows how to take a punch and come back for more. His grit is an inspiration to anyone who dreams impossible dreams. In November, 1996, the betting odds were 25-1 against Holyfield winning over Mike Tyson. The sportswriters repeatedly wrote Holyfield was too small, too old and too nice to win again, predicting the fight wouldn’t last three rounds. At 215 pounds and thirty-four years of age, Holyfield entered the ring in Las Vegas as the underdog but he left the ring as a history maker with an 11th-round TKO. At that time his win against Mike Tyson made Holyfield only the second fighter to ever win three separate world heavyweight championships, the first being the great Muhammad Ali. Here’s what Time Magazine reported about the fight. “‘I got caught in something strange,’” said Tyson. Or was it something wonderful, depending on your viewpoint. One of the sweetest men ever to practice boxing, Holyfield had
won only two of his past four fights, and the Nevada Athletic Commission was so worried about a heart irregularity that it would not sanction the fight unless he received a clearance from the Mayo Clinic. “‘Nobody thought I could win,’ Holyfield said. ‘Their judgments were not based on our talents, [mine and Tyson’s] though, but on our images. [We were pictured as] the monster with hate in his heart versus a man who was always talking about God. But the Bible tells us to have no fear, and I didn’t. Besides, I’ve known Mike since I was seventeen. He’s not so bad.’”2 You may ask why the odds were stacked so high against Evander Holyfield and how he did what everyone was saying he couldn’t. Look at his record of inconsistencies: • 1990 Holyfield won his first heavyweight championship against Buster Douglas and held his title until 1992, losing it to Riddick Bowe. • 1993 in a rematch with Bowe, he won it back again. • 1994 he lost his title to Michael Moorer. That same year Holyfield was diagnosed with a heart irregularity. • 1995 Holyfield won over Ray Mercer with a decision. In 1994 Evander met Janice Itson, M.D., who lived in Chicago. He was immediately impressed with her spiritual walk. A friendship flourished over long telephone conversations. In October of ’96 he had a conversation with God one day, and he called Janice and proposed. They were married in a simple ceremony in an Atlanta wedding chapel just a few weeks before the Tyson fight. There was no time for a honeymoon. Holyfield had been training hard for months but things weren’t going well. He was having trouble with his timing and with his rhythm. His sparring partners were getting the best of him. He shared his concerns with Janice early one morning on the phone. She said to him, “You think God is not big enough to handle this problem.” Then she began to sing this song, I have made You too small in my eyes.... 3 He finally got it. He was seeing God as small and his situation as being bigger than God. He kept singing that song over and over at practice and everything turned around. His timing and rhythm and speed came into line and his sparring partners were getting creamed. Janice also played an important role in the last few hours before the fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. In their hotel room Evander admitted to Janice he was nervous, something he had never done before. Her response blew him away. They danced to the gospel song “Mighty Man of War,” which got his focus off his nervousness and onto God. Walking out to the ring, in the ring before the fight and in his corner between rounds, his cornermen said, “Man, we can’t understand you. What are you saying?” He said, “Don’t worry about it. I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to God.”4 It was a history-making upset. God had already prepared his comeback.
Mercy to Cover Your Mess
Since then Evander has faced challenges in other arenas of life. But he refused to accept a setback. God’s mercy is like no one else’s, and so is His understanding. His mercy is powerful enough not only to cover all of your mess ups but also to change you in the process. He won’t leave you the same or let you get away with the things you used to. God loves you too much, and He needs
you. You are the only one He’s got to do what He designed you to do. God will preserve your life in order to preserve the purpose for your life. Have you ever heard the saying, “Let go and let God”? When we let God take over and fulfill His purposes in us — according to His way and in His timing — the results are better than anything we can do. Let Him surprise you. He’s going to rock your world and He may even shock you but I guarantee it will be good.
How Did I Get Here?
God can make your life so good, in fact you’ll start having what I call how-did-Iget-here experiences. One of my first experiences of this kind came when I was in my early 20s. I had been invited to Washington, D.C. to speak to the United States Congress on spiritual issues. As I stood in front of our nation’s political leaders, I began thinking, “How did I get here?” Then, with a crack of the mallet, the Speaker of the House introduced me, “And now, the Honorable Reverend Tim Storey from Los Angeles, California.” I stepped forward looking as honorable as I could and began my address. That was an awesome experience for me, but I didn’t get there on my own. I couldn’t have. God prepared me and then He opened the door. That’s how He works. He’s been taking people from the pit to the palace for thousands of years. And if you’re willing to go through His process, He’ll take you too!
Your Daddy’s a Winner!
Perhaps you’re wondering why those how-did-I-get-here experiences are so important. The reason is simple. You were born to win. Your Daddy — God the Father — is a winner. And you were made in His image. So when you find yourself in a slump, remember, it’s only temporary. God hasn’t brought you this far to leave you. Remember too, that you aren’t the first person to experience a setback. God took me and countless others beyond failure and into success. And He’ll do the same for you. You’re not going to die a loser. You’re going to do everything God put you on this earth to do.