What is the most tragic word in the English vocabulary? Many people I know would say, “It must be the word “Death.” Others, especially business people like me might say the most tragic word is “bankruptcy or insolvent.” I guess nobody is wrong. It’s just that I have a different perspective on the most tragic word ever. It’s probably the word, “ALMOST.”
You know what it means. Borrowing heavily on Max Lucado’s works, the word almost refers to a lot of things:
Almost. The one that got away. The sale that nearly closed. The gamble that almost paid off. Almost.
How many people do you know whose claim to fame is an almost?
- “Did I ever tell you about the time I almost was selected as the employee of the year?
- “They say he almost made the big leagues.”
- “I caught a catfish that was taller than me! Well…almost.”
As long as there have been people, there have been almosts. People who almost won the battle, who almost climbed the mountain, who almost found the treasure. I’ve met so many of them. Business people who come to me with their own individual tales of “almost’s.” “I almost cornered the market.” “I almost hit the jackpot.” And in a crazy gambling culture this country is slowly developing into, “I almost got the grand prize in the national Lotto.”
So many almost’s but none as tragic as a famous one found in the Bible. One of the most famous “almost’s” is found in the Bible. Pontius Pilate. Yet, what he missed was far more significant than a grand jackpot prize or an award. Lucado says: “He could have heard other voices. But he didn’t. He almost did. But he didn’t. Satan’s voices prevailed.
By the way, his voice often does prevail. Have you heard his sales talks?
- “Come on now. One time won’t hurt.”
- “She’ll never know.”
- “Other people do much worse things.”
- “At least you’re not being hypocritical.”
The enemy’s rhetoric of rationalization never ends. He lies, croons and woos like a traveling peddler, promising the moon and delivering disaster. “Step right up. Taste my brew of pleasure and sing my song of sensuality. After all, who knows about tomorrow?”
Truth need not scream. He stands permanently, quietly pleading, ever present. No tricks, no side shows, no temptations, just open proof.
People’s reactions vary. Some flow immediately to the peddler of poison. Others turn quickly to the Prince of Peace.
Remember Pilate. Washing your hands a thousand times won’t free you from the guilt of an opportunity ignored. It’s one thing to forgive yourself for something you did. It is something that you might have done, but didn’t.
Almost. The tragic word in the English vocabulary.
“I’ve been attending Bible studies but somehow I stopped because my interest disappeared. I wanted to be a follower of Christ but… but… but… Well, at least almost.”
I used to attend church but somehow there were many more important things that came. Well, I almost became a regular.”
“I used to read the bible and I almost understood it but I never had the time for it.”
Almost. What a tragic word.
“I almost told her I love her but I just did not and now she’s dead…”
“I almost told my kids they mean so much to me but I didn’t.”
“I almost told my dad “I love you,” but I just didn’t get around to doing it.”
Almost. It doesn’t mean it’s all of the most it simply means you never did it. And so you had none of everything. That’s what almost is all about.
A waste of time. A squander of opportunity. But nothing more tragic than almost accepting Christ. And not getting around to it.
No such thing as almost saved. Only mostly lost.