Once I wrote a controversial sentence. It said: “Do not be afraid of death. Fear lost opportunities.” In response I received a poem. A very noble poem, because it has a noble author – Roman Brandstaetter.
Many, many years ago
I met you on the road to Jerusalem.
It was early spring.
Blooming almond trees.
I remember the moment when you passed by,
I asked what I should do
To be perfect
You said that I should sell
All my possessions,
Give the money to the poor
And follow you.
I felt sad.
I chickened out.
I returned home.
And now I’m an old man.
I have a large family,
My fortune has multiplied,
People consider me to be happy,
However, I feel a painful void,
Hunger and hopelessness,
That even before my friends and family
I am afraid to reveal.
They would surely laugh at me.
And I still can not forget
And the blossoming almond trees
How much bitterness in this poem, how much sadness and longing to go back in time. I believe that there is nothing there of God’s thinking. Writing about lost opportunities, I meant something completely different! I often say that God is like a GPS – if you ever step off of the right path, He always finds you where you are and offers a new route. It will be different than the original, but it will also lead you to the right end. Being afraid of lost opportunities is nothing more than keeping your eyes open so as not to miss any divine guidance, any curve, any blessed pit stop. It means not forgetting to refuel and reviewing your engine once in a while…
This does not mean, however, that we should grieve over a missed exit, nervously turn back and cry because of a bad turn. Such grieving only weakens our vigilance here and now! The story of the rich young man, which Brandstaetter refers to, does not have to be a tragedy. Some theologians suppose that he might appear in the Gospel later as Joseph of Arimathea, who gives Jesus his brand new grave after His death and brings tons of spices to anoint His body. What would have happened if he immediately followed Jesus? Probably he would have been together with the other apostles hiding in fear of the Jews. But he had his five minutes and an extremely important mission to perform. We have no idea how our decisions affect life. We will discover the secret after our death.
There is no such a point at which you could not fully repent to God and give yourself to the Holy Spirit, even if it would be the last hours of your life. It does not matter how twisted were the roads that got you to the point where you are. It is only important where you want to go.