Nelson Cruz’s missed catch at the wall. Neftali Feliz’s fastball in the bottom of the ninth. Bringing in Scott Feldman to pitch the 10th inning instead of leaving in Feliz. No matter which way you slice it, game six of the world series last thursday night will be remembered as one for the ages, with many people lining it up as one of the greatest world series games of all time, up there with Carlton Fisk in 1975 and Bill Buckner in 1986. But undoubtedly, the one thing that Rangers fans will look back on the most, is the missed opportunities and regret that accompanied that loss. So much heartbreak, in fact, that Rangers manager Ron Washington remarked after game 7, “If there’s one thing in this world series that I’ll look back on, it’s having been so close. Just one pitch to be made, and one out to be gotten (sic), and it could’ve been a different story.”

Alas, it could’ve been. And so many times throughout history, people have made the same declaration. As a matter of fact, the phrase “if only” has become so much a part of our vocabulary, that many people mistake that failure for success. But the truth of the matter is, all the reasons in the world why you lost won’t make up for the fact that, at the end of the day, you’re still not going home with the trophy.

It wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to say that many people will feel that same way at the day of Judgment. Many will look at God and say, “If only You had told me what you wanted,” or “If only I had done this one thing differently,” and they would be on their way to Heaven. But what did Jesus say? “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord’… And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:22-23). Interestingly enough, Jesus goes on in the Sermon of the Mount to describe hearing His words, and putting them into practice. A very apropos bookend on a sermon that perfectly dictates how we should live life.

Yet not everyone will. Rest assured, however, that there will come a day when “every knee shall bow” (Philippians 2:10), and what was formerly “misunderstood teachings” will become clear as day. Certainly this was the idea behind the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The rich man, having everything in this life, and probably believing that his life couldn’t be better as a result of that, was shell-shocked to believe that Lazarus was in paradise and he was in torments. Yet his plea was for his brothers, that they should obey God’s words, “lest they come also to this place of torment” (Luke 16:28). Abraham refused, saying that they had the words of the prophets, they should listen to them – a statement that God makes over and over throughout scripture, yet hardly anyone believes until it’s too late.

Esau was a man that personifies this idea of “missed second chances.” Selling his birthright for a lowly pot of stew, he was incensed to learn that that seemingly innocent deal had cost him his inheritance. The Hebrew writer coins his emotions perfectly, when he says that Esau “desired to inherit the blessing, yet he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it diligently with tears” (Hebrews 12:17). Such will be the case for much of the world on the day of Judgment, who will look at God with tears in their eyes, and utter the fateful words: “If only…”

Last modified: January 22, 2019