The two saddest words in English are supposedly “If only” but another pair also makes the list: “too late” is also sad.
Too late is a fear that can haunt us because it is a sad reality, a grim fact of life. I met my former high school teacher at a party and she said she would have liked to write. I suggested she start, but she said, “It is too late.” I remember the sadness in her voice.
Sometimes I feel like that. After thinking about this today, I thought of all the opportunities God has given me to serve Him and I didn’t, or the many times I made the wrong choices that could not be reversed. After enough of them, I often feel like this is now part of who I am and my habits seem so ingrained that it is too late to change.
When the disciples were with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked them to watch and pray with Him, but also had to say, “Are you still sleeping?” How sad. They could have supported Him in His worst hour and they missed it. He even told them to sleep on. It didn’t matter now, their opportunity is lost. It is too late.
In one way, every failure is irremediable. My record will be by that amount less than it might and should and could have been. I look wistfully at Christ and then sadly at myself, thinking about what I might have been and what I am. So many foolish choices and now it is too late.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:3)
Or is it too late? The prophet says the vision God gave will certainly come, it will not delay. What does this mean for the vision I have about what could have been? Is there hope yet?
The point of the gospel is that in one way, it is never too late for anyone. This is the power of Christ. He encountered the poorest, most tangled lives with confidence that they could be made right and even that He could do it with a word or a touch. How often did He do this in situations looked impossible? Can He not do the same in my life? He promises to use all things for changing me, even my mistakes...
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28–29)
The Lord of eternity stepped into time and space to find a bride, to make ordinary sinners into a pure and spotless bride. Through His death and resurrection, through new life, through bewildering promises and staggering claims, He is purifying His people for Himself. He prays astounding prayers and says we will be all that He intended when we see Him as He is. He is so certain that even when I bemoan that it is too late, He never gives up on me.
It is never too late to throw myself on Jesus Christ, to rely on His power and grow toward being like Him. It is never too late for His dream of me to come true. For that, He bids me to get back into the thick of things with a steady heart and quiet assurance. Even though the vision lingers, I’m to wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.