John Smoltz was famous for getting himself in trouble.

He’ll be in the Baseball Hall of Fame for the ways he could get himself out.

Smoltz didn’t always start well, but he knew what to do when he got himself into trouble.  He describes the mental process he would go through in his book, Starting and Closing.  At some point he would take his game to an entirely different level.  And the mental signal he would give himself:  Rally time.

That’s a theme that I’m seeing all over the world these days.  In one situation after another, we’ve gotten ourselves into trouble.  In baseball language, there’s one run in, the bases are loaded, and nobody out.

Rally time.

It’s rally time in places like Colorado and Pennsylvania, as people are looking to make sense out of the senseless and somehow create a world where kids can be safe.  But the rally comes from recognizing that our hope isn’t built on metal detectors and psychobabble, but on the peace of God that passes all understanding.

It’s rally time in places like Washington and state capitals everywhere, as incumbents try to keep their jobs and others try to take them away – all based on promises and politics.  But the rally comes from recognizing that our hope isn’t built on Republicans or Democrats, but on the government of the Lord God.

It’s rally time in churches around the world, where, in spite of what you’ve been told, the Kingdom of God is advancing with power and authority.  Frankly, I’m a little weary of hearing how irrelevant the church is.  In human terms, the church of the Living God is still the greatest thing that ever happened to this planet.  But the rally comes when the people in the church quit fighting over forms of worship or personalities or trivia, and start acting like the message of the gospel still matters to them.

It’s rally time in homes.  Years ago Satan declared war on the home and guess what?  He’s winning!  But I’m here to tell you that however beat-up or brokenhearted you are, that the same Jesus who walked on the water in the midst of a storm can bring peace and healing back into the war zone you call home as well.

It’s rally time in your life, too.

You may be down but you aren’t out.

You may feel defeated, but you haven’t been destroyed.

Your reality doesn’t have to be your destiny because God says the end of the story hasn’t been told about you yet.

Some of the greatest victories in the Bible took place when it looked as if the people of God were toast…

  • Nehemiah took a bunch of defeated builders and called them to see the hand of their God which was good upon them.
  • David faced national calamity because he failed morally, and his son led a billion against him.  And now Absalom was dead and David reached his bottom.  That’s when General Joab came and risked his life to get in David’s face.
  • Peter wept bitterly because he denied Christ. His passion for Jesus wasn’t enough to keep him from colossal failure.  But the message of the angel was clear:  “Go tell the disciples and Peter that I’ll meet them in Galilee.”

But one of the most dramatic rally time stories in the Bible takes place at the end of the life of Samson.  There this extraordinary man fell victim to his own lust and pride, and it looked like the story was over.

Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison. However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off (Judges 16:21-22).

Samson was a victim of the blinding, binding, grinding power of his own sin. But the end of the story hadn’t been told about Samson yet.   (I just love it when God says, “However…”!)

Samson’s story reveals what has to happen before Rally Time takes place.  Rally time comes:

When sin gets cleansed.

Samson turned his face toward God again.  “Remember me,” he cried.  So should you.  Some of the most powerful words ever said in scripture and in life have started many a rally time:  I have sinned!

When strength gets restored.

Samson’s hair was an outward symbol of his calling by God.  He was set apart for God’s service and anointed with God’s power.  So are you!  But every once in a while we have to be reminded that it’s “not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord.”

Whatever you think you know about the power of God, I’ve got good news for you – He has more power available than you can imagine.  It’s just a matter of reconnecting with your Power Source.

When faith gets exercised.

Despite his previous defeat and his physical blindness, Samson knew that God could be trusted.  The hardest time to trust God is after you have failed.  But can you think of a more important time?

Your rally time is the ultimate faith test.  Are you going to trust the circumstances, or are you going to trust God?  Your failure hasn’t removed your capacity to hold on to the faithfulness of God.

When vision gets clarified.

If it wasn’t such a matter of life and death, this would be funny.  Samson says to the boy leading him around by the hand, “Would you mind letting me rest against the load-bearing pillars that hold the temple up?”

You don’t have to have physical eyesight to have vision.  Even as a blind man, Samson recognized an opportunity when he saw one.

To experience your own rally, you need a new vision from God about what’s possible and what He is calling you to do.

When courage gets utilized.

In the ultimate display of courage, Samson gave his life to execute God’s judgment on His enemies.  And old saying is still true:  Courage is not the absence of fear, it is action in the presence of fear.

When John Smoltz needed a rally, he still had to have the courage to throw the next pitch, and risk failure.

When Nehemiah needed a rally, he still had to have the courage to declare that the hand of God was on him – and risk rejection.

And when it’s rally time for you, you’re going to have to have the courage to take bold, decisive action in the direction that God is leading you.  That means risking failure or rejection again.  And that takes courage.

Can you relate to Samson?

Defeated.

Grinding it out.

Blinded by sin or circumstances.

Bound up by a past that keeps you frozen in failure.

Then may I give you a glaring dose of the obvious?  You’re not dead yet!

So quit acting like you are.

It’s rally time!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Chaffin July 30, 2012 at 11:12 am

I particularly enjoyed the oral presentation of Rally Time yesterday. Masterfully done! I’ve missed getting to hear you preach.

Martha Orlando July 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I can’t begin to tell you, Andy, how much I needed this inspiration today and the reminder that I can face anything knowing God is with me. Thank you for sharing!
Blessings!

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