As the football season hots up I’m reminded of a few years back, when manager Ian Dowie looked set to get a new word in the Oxford English Dictionary following a post-match interview in which he described Crystal Palace’s ability to overcome set-backs and adversity.
The Bible mentions this too. I’m waiting for a new version of The Message to translate Proverbs 24:16:
“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” (NIV)
This verse observes that ‘the righteous’, those who follow God and seek his ways, even though they may fall short and mess up, they can continually get up again. For Christians, bouncebackability, should be a key part of our character. But how do we help cultivate that in our lives?
1.Run back to God
WHEN WE SIN AND MESS UP, WE RUN AWAY FROM THE SOURCE OF ALL FORGIVENESS.So often it’s the case that when we need God the most, is when we run away from him. When life gets hard we turn to just about every source of consolation but God.
Sometimes we feel scared to come back to God but as Jonah found out, there’s no running away from him. The word repent, in the original Greek of the Bible, means to turn around and change direction. Turn back to God and he’s there right behind you. Just read the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15) and let God be bigger than how you feel about who you are and what you’ve done.
2. Train yourself for truth
If you’re anything like me, exercise happens very rarely. And the longer you put off going for a run the harder it is to start again. But at the same time you can find it doesn’t take as long to get back to the fitness you had before, because your body is more ready for it, you’ve got a solid foundation to work off.
What’s your spiritual training? The more you read the Bible the more it can be a resource to draw upon.
Immerse yourself in the Bible, gobble it up, meditate on it, memorise it. That way it will be easier to draw out of your mind and memory when you need it. When you’re going through a hard time or get knocked down, you can find encouragement in the truth of God’s word within you. Preach to yourself, tell yourself God’s truth and let it change you.
3. Be in good community
Now accountability is one of those words I don’t really like, so often we hear it purely in the context of sexual sin and the shame is that it sometimes becomes about beating ourselves up. But the reality is that being part of a good Christian community keeps us accountable. People can ask us honest questions about how we’re doing and we can give real answers. Our friends can ask after us if we’ve been ducking out. And when we’re too tired and worn out to do it alone, we can be well supported and encouraged.
Imagine your summer BBQ, if you were to take a pair of tongs and pluck a coal from the fire. What would happen? It would grow cold. The only way it can maintain and find its heat is in the company of others. This is true of Christians, it’s hard to go it alone, and so we need others around us to inspire, encourage and support us through life’s ups and downs.
Follow these three tips and make bouncebackability a key part of your Christian life.