Thee times when I was a boy I heard the phrase,  “almost, Son, but not quite.” The first time was when I decided to play baseball. Fourth grade shouldn’t have been a difficult time for a budding sportsman. But every time the ball was pitched to me, all I could think of was it hitting me in the head. I shrunk away as the bat wildly swung at the ball. I wasn’t any better at catching, there seemed to be a hole in my glove. So, I was given the position of right fielder. No one ever hit to right field, “Am I good enough to play first base, dad?” It was a coveted position. “Almost, Son, but not quite. Right field is the best place for you.” 

If baseball wasn’t my sport, maybe basketball. A basketball wouldn’t hurt as much as a baseball. Did you know if you done catch the ball when it comes at your face it can really hurt. I probably ran around the court more than any other child, only to find myself under the basket waiting for a pass that never came. During actual games I never played unless we were way ahead or way behind, and then only the last 2 minutes. The minimum amount a time a child had to play. “Dad, aren’t I good enough to play more?” “Almost, Son, but not quite. Keep working on your shot.” 

The third time was in the third grade, when we lived in Altas Oklahoma. Uncle Bob (not a real uncle, but a close friend of my dads) came over a lot, and he would always play, “let’s make a deal.” “Do you want what’s in my right pocket or in my left?” “Your left.” It was a small toy, but in his right pocket was a wad of dollar bills. “Oh,” my father laughed. “Almost, but not quite.” Everyone else laughed too, everyone but me.

Third, fourth and fifth grade were really hard years for me, and one lesson I learned was, “no matter how hard you try you will never be good enough. It’s easier to be a failure than to achieve your goals, because not everyone is a winner, especially me.” I think that is why I wasn’t surprised when I read the verse,  “for all have sinned and all have fallen short of the glory of God” (Roman 3:23). What surprised me was that no one measured up. It gave me an unsettling joy that I wasn’t alone as a failure.

What has dawned on me is that God doesn’t see me as a failure. He sees me as worse, a sinner and an enemy. But he did everything that he could to provide a way of escape. A way far from that of a failure.  

  • But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
  • Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I may have been, or see to be, a failure, but in Christ I have become more. It isn’t my own effort, but based on the act of God, in Christ. I am thankful that my Heavenly Fathler didn’t stop at “Almost, Son, but not quite.” He made a way through Christ. That’s something to rejoice about. I’m just say…

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