I laid there and did the math. "I'm probably over half way done." I may be way more than half way done. But even if things go well, I'm probably half way done. I sat up and asked myself, "Is it too late to finish strong?" I went to the kitchen, grabbed a banana and a yogurt, sat down at the table and began praying. I told God that I didn't know how much time I had left, but I wanted to make it count. I asked Him if it is too late to make some changes that need to be made. I could almost hear Him audibly say, "It isn't too late for Me."
As I ate my 50 year-old, out of shape, old dad breakfast, I scrolled through the news. The first story to pop up was about the Duke University basketball team staging a record-setting comeback. I've been a North Carolina basketball fan for most of my life. So I know a little bit about basketball, and Duke. I clicked. It turns out #2 Duke was down to #16 Louisville by 20 with about 11 minutes to go in the game. That means they were well past the halfway point. Legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) called a timeout.
He looked at his team of young players and said, "We're going to win." He admitted later that he may have been telling them a lie. He was literally hoping they wouldn't lose by 35. But the players said that they believed him. One of the star players recalls, "You're looking at the greatest coach of all time, and he's telling you that you are going to win." They believed it. They ended up being down by 23 with about 10 minutes to go. Then they rallied to post an NCAA feat. No one has ever come back from being down 23 in less than a half.
Coach K said during a post-game interview, "It's a crazy game. Human beings are crazy. We are spectacular for 9-1/2 minutes, and it was just good enough."
Duke's defense forced an incredible 9 turnovers in the final 8 minutes. The other team missed 9 of their last 11 shots. And star freshman Blue Devil, Zion Williamson scored 11 points, grabbed four rebounds, had three steals, and a blocked shot in just under 10 minutes. He said he got some inspiration from his mom in the stands. "I'm not going to lie. I was very frustrated. I don't know if this is cheesy or corny, but when I was on the bench, I heard my mom in the stands. She said, 'It's okay. Be you. When you get back in, make them pay.'"
At the end of the game, when the young man who is the runaway favorite for national player of the year honors had a chance to drive to the basket himself, he passed it off to another player who drove and was fouled and hit the game winning free throws.
I don't know where you are in your life, but you are bound to have some discouraging moments. You may be past the halfway point in your game. You may know it, or you may not. You may think your chance for victory is over. But I want you to know that God is in the comeback business. He says you can win. I'm not talking about basketball games, or business deals, or financial gain. I'm talking about victory in your battle with the enemy. When He tells you that you are going to win, He isn't just trying to motivate you with a false hope. He is telling you that the victory is already won through His work on the cross. And while the enemy may have gotten the best of you for whatever reason and in whatever season, the game is not over. If you will surrender to His plan, and play some defense, the enemy will be forced into turnovers, because he is defeated. Listen to the people in the stands who believe in your calling and gifting. You will have your chance to score. You will have teammates with you who can support you and score when you can't. This isn't just a sports analogy. It is a word of truth for those who may feel like they have missed their opportunity.
Paul told the early Christians who were in need of encouragement, "Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand." (Ephesians 6:10-13)
Don't worry about how late it is in your life. Focus on what God is saying about who He is, and where He is in your life. He inhabits eternity. So it is never too late for Him.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]