As we consider the “almost but(s)” that have occurred in our lives, it brings to mind both times of thanksgiving and reminders of disappointments. Lest the latter thoughts plague our thinking and stifle our effectiveness for Christ, Scripture reminds us through the Apostle Paul how to deal with past missed opportunities … “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14 NIV).
For the believer in Jesus Christ, there is much joy and consolation when one positively considers the “almost but(s).” Asaph, in writing one of the Psalms, revealed his disillusionment and lack of understanding concerning the apparent prosperity of the wicked. He records his mental turmoil … “Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Ps. 73:1-3 NKJV). It appears that he was in a spiritual crisis with serious negative consequences pending if he were to continue that line of thinking – almost, but -- the Spirit of God graciously brought him to the point of reorienting to God’s plan and purposes. Drawing from the Word of God in the sanctuary of his soul he came to a Biblical conclusion and the result was peace and stability of soul.
Another psalmist writing in retrospect recalled his days and weeks on the death march to Babylon. Nothing outwardly was occurring that would bring any sense of joy and hope to the prisoners chained and physically abused at the hands of the enemy. Despair seemed to abound for it appeared to be a hopeless situation -- or was it? Almost, but -- he recalls … “My soul faints with longing for your salvation [deliverance], but I have put my hope in your word” (Ps. 119:81 NIV). Thus he rested in assurance that it was the Lord who was sustaining his life. As a prisoner of war, his future was unknown, but He had confidence in the God who held the tomorrows in His hands. Thus he realistically assessed his circumstances and wrote … “They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts. Preserve my life according to your love, and I will obey the statutes of your mouth” (Ps. 119 87-88 NIV). It was that spiritual perspective that brought stability and inner peace when all around turmoil and destruction was rampant.
Inner peace and confidence in the Lord God became his personal possession but not exclusive only for him. Peace with God is offered to everyone through faith in Jesus Christ, the One who on the Cross paid the sin debt of each individual thus offering eternal life and relationship with the God of heaven and earth. God imparts His righteousness at the moment of faith in Christ and forever places that individual in union with Christ. Therefore the invitation to anyone and everyone is the same – “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting [eternal] life” (John 3:16b NKJV). Such a magnificent offer, purely grace in its nature, requiring only a response of “yes” which results in immediately becoming the possessor of eternal life and an unbreakable relationship with God, for … “He who believes in the Son has everlasting [eternal life]” (John 3:35a NKJV).
Yet some fail to accept God’s gracious offer of salvation. Whether the reason is unbelief or careless procrastination, the result of neglecting God’s only remedy for man’s hopelessly lost spiritual condition is condemnation. Just as the Apostle John would declare that the result of believing in Christ was the gift of eternal life, He must also state the negative result of unbelief … “he who does not believe the Son shall not see life [eternal], but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36b NKJV).