Just ask the Texas Rangers.
If the Rangers fail to win game seven of the 2011 World Series tonight, they will go down in the long and storied history of Major League Baseball as the team that came the closest to turning “almost” into “we did it.” Not once, but twice the Rangers had the St. Louis Cardinals down to their last strike. Not once, but twice they took a two-run lead into what could have been the last inning.
The Texas Rangers almost ended a half-century drought.
But they lost.
In 11 innings.
As a lifelong Rangers fan, I went to bed disappointed and woke up with this phrase running on a loop in my brain: “Almost is the bitterest pill of all.”
Go ahead. Test the theory. Think about all the years when you didn’t have a chance, when you had no dog in the hunt, no horse in the race. Those years would end and that was that. The postseason was for other teams; not yours. It was fun while it lasted.
“Hey, there’s always next year.”
Back then, you could watch a game like the one last night and just enjoy it for what it was: An all-time classic.
But when it is you or your team that “almost did it,” there is a whole different feel. What if you never get it done? What if it takes another 50 years or more to get that close?
I was thinking about this haunting phrase and remembered an episode from the life of Paul the Apostle. It is recorded in the book of Acts, chapter 26. Paul was on trial before King Agrippa and was allowed to speak in his own defense. Paul’s defense, as you might imagine, was the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So moving was the eloquent preacher’s words that Agrippa said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”
I have often wondered whether, in the endless grip of a Christless eternity, those are the only words Agrippa can remember saying during his time on earth. Does”almost” haunt him forever?
P.P. Bliss felt the weight of those words when he penned Almost Persuaded, the timeless hymn based on Agrippa’s encounter with Paul.
I know it might sound weird, but I thought about the last verse of that hymn as I fell asleep last night:
Almost cannot avail; Almost is but to fail Sad, sad, that bitter wail: Almost, but lost.
Apply those words to a team that comes as close as a team can come to winning it all, only to fall just short and they are truly sad.
Apply those words to a person that considers Christ only to reject Him… and they are beyond tragic.
The moral here is this: Let the bitter pill of “almost” apply to those things that matter for awhile, but not to the one thing that matters more than every other thing in your life. Come to Christ.
(And go, Rangers.)