“It’s never too late to be who you might have been”
(Swing Tag - part 2)
First of all, let’s get this point out of the way. There’s something sad about that statement… it implies that many of us, perhaps all of us, are walking round disappointed with our lot, ambitions dashed, dreams unrealised and potential unmet! It reminds me of one of the saddest characters that I’ve ever come across - Eponine in Les Miserables. Her love for Marius wasn’t returned or even recognised by him. In the end, she takes a bullet for him and, whilst dying in his arms, she declares her love. Whatever her reasons were, she didn’t pursue what occupied most of her waking thoughts and, in the end, when she declared her love, it was too late.
We're very peculiar beings at times - we convince ourselves not to do the right thing, we talk ourselves out of doing what we really should do… even the stuff that would be good for us, never mind anyone else. It’ll go wrong, it’s too hard, it’s not for me, I’m not the right person, it would be better if so and so did it, etc., etc. We make choices on behalf of others as well – you know the kind of thing I’m talking about – I’m not asking so and so to have coffee because they won’t accept. It’s just a way of deflecting responsibility for not doing the thing that we should do on to someone else.
We make wrong choices, we make mistakes and, even when we try to get it right, sometimes the best that we can do just falls short. And then there’s the stuff that’s outside of our control. If you’re anything like me, life has thrown up shocks and surprises and has perhaps not turned out quite how you might have dreamed, hoped or expected. It might just be life’s reality check as we get older and as we experience more of life’s ups and downs. Broken relationships, illness, loss, redundancy, debt… none of us set out to have anything other than a happy ending.
Life, our own choices, the actions of others… shape us into the people that we are and none of us are the finished article.
BUT, with God, he sees us as works in progress. With him, it’s never too late to turn things round and be the person that he intended us to be. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Every new day brings with it the opportunity to get back on course – whether that is taking the smallest step (making that invitation for coffee) or making a big leap (deciding to follow that vocational call). And that opportunity is open to everyone. No-one is too far gone.
The Bible is littered with ordinary people whose lives were far from perfect but God intervened and turned them around... just consider two of the New Testament’s giants – Peter and Paul. I’ve got a very special friend whose life spiralled out of control at an early age – violence, drugs, prison – but God intervened. The person that he is now is not the person he was – it’s utterly incredible.
And let’s be real, we’ll continue to get things wrong and be knocked off course. That’s why God’s mercies are new every morning – not just on a Sunday or a holy day or once in a lifetime. But every single day.
Back to that swing tag – it reminds me that, with God, it’s never too late… never too late to be forgiven, never too late to forgive, never too late to turn things round, never too late to get back on or set a new course.