If you are reading these words … it is not too late!
My Latin teacher at high school took discipline very seriously. For personal edification he would read two pages out of the English dictionary every day. But I reckon that “procrastination” and “tardiness” were two words that were not in his dictionary! I recall him regularly telling us boys, “Better never than late … better never than late.” As a young naïve newcomer to high school, I thought he had mistakenly muddled up the English expression. As a young naïve latecomer to class, I soon realised, along with my classmates, just how seriously he took punctuality.
On one particular morning after break time, we were ambling along to Latin class only to discover upon arrival that we were a few minutes late. The classroom door was locked. Our assumption was that our Latin teacher was also late – until we heard him teaching from inside the classroom. We realised that he had locked the door from the inside. Classmates hoisted one another up to the glass panel above the door to see what was going on. The spirited Irishman was lecturing one poor student on his own as though the world was his classroom. At the end of the lesson, he unlocked the door to let his prisoner out and glared at us moping in the corridor and snorted, “better never than late … better never than late!”
But friends, I want you to know that if you’re reading this: it’s not too late! Unlike my Latin teacher, God is the God of 2nd chances. He is the God who exclaims: better late than never! While you still have breath in your lungs, it is never too late to turn to Him; never too late to be used by Him; never too late to change the trajectory of your life. It does not matter whether you have failed a thousand times and find yourself now in the sunset of your life – it is never too late to begin again in God’s grace no matter how far the hands of time have turned.
The power of God’s grace is so powerful that it is able to rip to shreds your muttering words: too late for me! The thief on the cross turned to Jesus in his dying moments and Jesus responded: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Better late than never!
The day labourers in Matthew 20 who were hired late in the day received the same wage as those who had worked through the heat of the day. God’s grace says: Better late than never!
As we grow older and the years roll by we can so easily surrender to our bad habits and ongoing weaknesses. We learn to just embrace the rough edges of our personalities and excuse our sinful behaviour and lack of devotion to God with all sorts of excuses. As the sun sets on our life we allow guilt and regret to overwhelm us. We can so easily mutter, “Why bother? I should have started earlier; the window of opportunity has closed!”
But if you’re reading this, I want you to know: it is not too late! Don’t surrender to lateness! Throw yourself afresh upon the deep resources of God’s Spirit to save you, empower you and fill you. Surely “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)
That is the hope held out in the gospel! God is in the business of raising dead things to life. Yes, you can’t change the past, but God’s Spirit can change your future! What excuses are keeping you from what He wants to do through your life?
So before the lights fade and the curtain falls and the door is, indeed, finally locked, turn to Christ! Put away the stubborn roots of pessimistic pride that have entangled your hard heart and ask God to meet you in your lateness and to do something new in your life with whatever time is left!
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”Isaiah 43:18-19
Stubborn grumpy hearts mutter: Better never than late! But a gracious loving God calls back: Better late than never!