Is It Too Late For You?


October, 2003

Dear Ministry Partner,

Is it too late for you? Is your situation too bleak? Is it too late for God to come through for you? Are you over the hill, past your prime, too young, or feel you just don't have what it takes?

You may have heard me share about a minister acquaintance of mine here in Tulsa who learned it is never too late. As I recall, he was living in California at the time and having a big conference in a distant state. He needed to arrange airline tickets for about 10 staff members to fly out there. He put a reminder in his personal calendar 21 days before the event to make the reservations. He knew he could save a lot of money if he booked the tickets at least 21 days before the event. When that day came, he saw the reminder and made a mental note to call the travel agent. However, that day was filled with one administrative crisis after another, and before he knew it , he was getting ready to go to sleep well after 11:00 p.m. that night. He suddenly sat up in bed realizing he had not booked those tickets. He knew each round trip ticket would probably cost at least $300 more the next day, which would be a loss of $3,000! So he up, went to the phone, looked up airline reservation numbers in the yellow pages, and began making calls. He finally found the best price, and began the tedious task of giving all the specific name and address information for each of the 10 employees. When he finished, he told the agent to book the reservations. But when she tried, she said, "Oh, I am so sorry, the computer's clock just ticked over to 12:01 am, and the rates have all automatically gone up. It is too late to book the tickets at the rates I gave you." The minister slowly hung up the phone, and began to mumble to himself the words of the agent, "It's too late..." Then he suddenly sat up, and thought to himself, "It is never too late with God!" So he began to think of any possible way to book the tickets. He suddenly realized that Hawaii was in a time zone 2 hours earlier, and the computers of the airline ticket agents there would still be on the previous day! So he called information for Hawaii, 808-555-1212, and asked for a reservation number there for the airline he had just talked to. Sure enough, he booked the best tickets he had just priced — and saved the $3,000!

As additional illustrations of it never being too late, I have seen two of the most incredible comebacks in professional sports history. On a Monday night football game, the Cowboys were playing the Giants. The Giants whipped the Cowboys all over the field until the 4th quarter. The Cowboys had trouble getting touchdowns and could only score field goals to finally tie the game toward the end of the fourth quarter. But the Giants kicked a final field goal to pull ahead 32 29 and left the Cowboys only 11 seconds left in the game. Most people would say, "It's too late." But the Cowboys received the kickoff after the Giants' field goal and had time for two plays. The Cowboys completed a long pass to set them up for a field goal attempt. With 4 seconds to go, their kicker made a 52 yard field goal (the longest of his career) to tie the score and send the game into overtime. During the overtime period, the same Cowboy's kicker made his 7th field goal of the night to win the game (and tie the all time successful field goal record).

Similarly, the Colts were playing the defending Superbowl champions, the Bucccaneers (who had only allowed the opposing teams to make one touchdown in all previous games so far in the season). With only 4 minutes left to play and 21 points behind, most people would have looked at the Colts and said, "It's too late." However, the Colts rallied and scored the 21 points they needed to tie the game (which no NFL team has ever done when trailing that much with less than 4 minutes to go). The Colts then went on to attempt a field goal in overtime, but the kicker missed. But wait there was a flag on the play, and the Colts got to attempt the field goal all over again. And even though that kick was deflected at the line by a defensive player, the field goal was still good to win the game. The Colts coach was quoted by Sports Illustrated as saying, "I just had a feeling the Lord was going to do something, and He certainly did." Moral of the stories: never give up work towards your ultimate goal, because it is "never too late with God".

There is an old saying, "It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." While Christians should not be known for literal "fighting", the principle of inner resolve, strong will power, and perseverance are very much Christian principles. The Apostle Paul said we should "fight the good fight of faith". Christians should not give up quickly, or be easily discouraged. One of the only requirements which God commanded Joshua during his leadership commissioning was to "be strong" (repeated 3 times in Joshua 1:6,7,9).

No matter what you are facing difficult marriage, child problems, set back in your career, financial hole to dig out of, bad diagnosis from the doctor don't give up. Luke 18:1 says, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint." Other translations say "not to lose heart" (NAS), "not give up" (NIV), "never become discouraged" (TEV), and not to give up "until the answer comes" (TLB). To paraphrase, we should not "cave in" because with God — we can overcome.

Jesus himself actually promised special rewards to those who persevere and "overcome".
"To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life." (Rev 2:7)
"And he who overcomes... to him I will give power over the nations." (Rev 2:26)
"He who overcomes...I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life." (Rev 3:5)
"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God." (Rev 3:12)
"To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne" (Rev 3:21)
(I don't fully comprehend that, but it implies that those believers who really overcome significant challenges in this life will have a time in Heaven where Jesus will let each one sit next to Him on His throne right next to Almighty God! Jesus must really appreciate those who overcome in this life!) Then, Jesus goes on to say, "He who overcomes shall inherit all things." (Rev 21:7)

Whatever you are going through, you can get through it with God! 1st John 5:4 says, "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world our faith." We are further told, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Rom 12:21). We have to be able to overcome, because God commands us to overcome! He does not command us to do something we cannot do!

The Bible speaks much of perseverance. God also commands us to persevere. "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial..." (Rev 3:10). Many things we hope for will come to pass through perseverance. "But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." (Rom 8:25). And Hebrews 6:12 says, "Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." May I say it is a reality that God designed the chicken egg so that the baby chick has to peck its way out — persevering!

One pastor I know frequently said, "If you come to the end of your rope, and you don't know what else to do, just tie a knot and hang on and wait for God." Certainly we should do what we can and should do (you know faith without works is dead). And other ingredients like fasting are often a key to break-throughs. But faith in God — raw, persevering, ultimate trust in Him — is a key to overcoming whatever obstacles and challenges may be in our lives. "God... is a shield to those who put their trust (faith) in Him." (Prov 30:5). It is never too late with God! Keep your faith in Him, and you can overcome!

Being Overcomers,

Dale & Judi Leander


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