Almost Doesn't Count

On Friday, I lit the grill (gas) and for the ribs which I had prepared. I like cooking on the grill – it gives me time to relax and practice that skill which I do not have – patience. Well, it was not long before I had three kids running into my house yelling ‘fire!’

Somehow my grill had caught fire on the inside. The black smoke was bellowing, the flames where escaping from under the lid, and the temp gage read the max – 800 degrees. Like the brilliant person that I am, I immediately opened the lid, burningevery hair on my arm. We got the water hose and put it out – not before, however, those same three wonderful little children ran screaming in the yard,

Daddy’s going to catch the house on fire.
Daddy started a fire
Look at all that smoke
Uncle Joel, that’s a big fire
Daddy, look at all the burnt stuff

Yes, those wonderful kids. It was almost something serious, actually. The propane take was right under the fire, and the grill was about 4 feet from my front door. Figure this – pressurized propane tank, 800 degree plus fire, front porch of a house.

Almost lit the house on fire, if not worse.

In college, I was engaged to the love of my life. My first love. The woman who I would spend the rest of my life with in wedded bliss. We almost got married.

Once, in high school, I was driving with some friends, reached up to turn the station on my cool car (it was a walkman mounted to the visor). I didn’t notice the truck in front of me, stopped. I quickly turned the wheel, and barely struck him. It was almost a serious accident.

When I was 14, I was getting off of ROTC practice, and riding home with a church lady. She turned in front of a very fast moving Ford F-150. We were in a Chevolet Impala, late 80’s (this was 1992). The truck hit the junction between the front wheel and the passenger side door. That’s where I was sitting. It hit with such a force that it through the car into the ditch, and turned the portion of the seat on which I was sitting directly into where the trucks grill once was. I almost put my seat belt on, but didn’t, and because of that, I was thrown out of my seat against the driver’s side door, which spared me real serious injuries. (I escaped with crushed elbow and some bruised ribs.)

In a quick moment, any of those situations could have turned deadly.

King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do–”

Agrippa interrupted him. “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?”

Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.” (Act 26:27-29 NLT)

The KJV says ‘Almost thou persuadest me.’ Almost, in the Greek, means ‘short time, sudden, quickly.’ Agrippa wanted to think about it. He wanted some more time. Perhaps he had to weigh his options – what would he have to give up? His power, perhaps? Perhaps, he was being extremely sarcastic, but no matter, Paul didn’t take the bait.

I didn’t set the house on fire, but I almost did. My wife now is truly the love of my life, my partner in things, the woman with whom I will spend my wedded years. I nearly caused a serious accident. I nearly ended up with my legs crushed between a car and a truck.

Agrippa had a short time to be persuaded of Christ. Paul was speaking purposely, nor more purposely than a fire or a life or death situation. Agrippa wanted time – Paul wanted souls. Agrippa wanted something large and inviting, something grand, from Paul. Paul had only a short time filled with few words

Paul used a brief moment in time to rehearse the Gospel message, an ‘almost’ second, if you will. Agrippa passed it up, and used sarcasm ‘Paul, do you really expect me, after such a short time, to be come a Christian? Really, man, are you deft?’

While the KJV misses the direct translation of the phrase, the sense of brevity and of loss is still there. The people of the Court stood and walked away, leaving Paul in alone. Agrippa had a chance, but he passed it by. He almost latched into something that worthwhile. The quick moment that Agrippa had with Paul could have turned into something which gave life.

Almost doesn’t count.

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