Never Too Late

Odysseus is my home boy. That Homeric hero and I have a few things in common: He was a husband and the father of one son. Me too. He was resourceful, crafty, even outright cunning as a serpent at times. I’ll plead the fifth on that one, but we also share a proclivity to take the long way home. Odysseus spent 10 years away from his family fighting in the Trojan War, and then the journey home took him an additional 10 years.

I know the feeling, having gotten home late for dinner myself many times (though never by a decade). Those were the years I was working by day and studying by night to complete my undergraduate degree, a “journey” I began at 21, abandoned at 23, resumed at 34, and finally completed at 39.

Clearly, I have a gift for lateness. I did not learn to tie my shoes until I was 6 or 7. At 11, I was still struggling to learn to read an analog clock. I could not ride a bike until I was 12. I did not learn to drive until I was 23, and then didn’t get a license until age 30. While many Christians enter marriage and parenthood by their mid– to late 20s, I married at 31 and became a father at 32. I also got my high school equivalency diploma when I was 32 (I started college that first time without one—please don’t ask). I took up martial arts at 46 and recently earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do—at 54.

Even today, in late middle age, I still wonder what I want to be when I grow up. And I cling to a dream of one day owning a home. What on earth or in heaven could be the meaning of such a lifetime of lagging? What value could there possibly be in a career of fumblings and stumblings, of fits and starts?

When I came to faith in Christ at 24, I barely understood what I was doing. Then I spent years struggling to grasp anything the Lord and His ministers ever taught me. Now, after some 30 years as a Christian, the past few in a Salvation Army church, I finally begin to understand that God is the loving Champion of laggards and underdogs. He is the Savior and Redeemer of losers and weaklings, of those

 • who fail to keep a simple commandment, thereby blowing it for themselves and their posterity.

• who wander, not knowing where they are going, but seeking the promise of a family and city of their own.

• who lie and cheat to gain advantage and then have to flee the consequences.

• who stutter when they speak.

• who are afraid to lead, to fight, to answer the call, and who keep asking for signs.

• who give way to terror, sink into depression and then sit brooding under a tree.

• who boast that they will stand by the Savior and then do not.

• who drown in doubt, refusing to believe unless they can see and touch.

• who are dead sure they do God’s work, only to be belted off their high horse to discover that they were dead wrong the whole time.

 Can you identify these “losers and weaklings” from the Bible? (See their names in order at the end of this article.)

The Lord has never rejected me just because I take so very long to “get it”—to learn and do the simplest things. I’ve discovered that He is willing to call me friend and son. And the Lord Jesus has taught me that though I am not so swift and not so impressive; though I may choke up and buckle under the pressure; though I am sometimes hasty and at other times vacillating; though I procrastinate; though I often miss my train and fail to get home until far, far into the night, my heavenly Father is up, watching and waiting until I finally do arrive.

And that He has left the Light on for me.

by David S. Ortiz

 David Ortiz is a Salvation Army soldier (church member) of the Brooklyn Bay Ridge Corps.

Bible “losers” and “weaklings”: King Saul, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Elijah, and the Apostles Peter, Thomas, and Paul


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