It Might Have Been

by Dr. Paul Chappell

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Acts 20:24

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been.

On a cold December morning, dressed in a white execution gown, Fyodor Dostoevsky was led to the wall of the prison courtyard with the other condemned prisoners. Blindfolded, he waited for the last sound he would hear, the crack of a pistol echoing off the prison walls. Instead he heard fast-paced footsteps; then the announcement that the Czar had commuted his sentence to ten years of hard labor.

In that Siberian prison Fyodor Dostoevsky was allowed only a New Testament to read. There he discovered something more wonderful, more true than his socialistic ideals. He met Christ, and his heart was changed. Dostoevsky returned to civilian life. He wrote feverishly and produced his prison memoirs, The House of the Dead and Crime and Punishment, followed by many other major works.

Dostoevsky’s church attendance was sporadic, and because no Christian ever took him under his wing to disciple him, he never grew as a Christian. He neglected Bible study and the fellowship of other believers. He began to drink and gamble. Eventually, excessive drinking and compulsive gambling unraveled his life so that he died penniless and wasted. He left prison with his flame lit for Christ and died with nothing more than smoldering embers. The tragedy of Fyodor Dostoevsky is not so much what he became but what he could have become for Christ.

With his public renown as a writer, Dostoevsky had a great chance to point others to Christ. Yet the passion for God that once filled his heart faded away, and he ended his life far away from the Lord.

It’s not how you begin a race but how you finish it. No one receives a prize for being first off the starting blocks. Even so, one of your main objectives in the Christian race should be to finish your course with joy, to remain faithful through the high and low times of life.

God wants to greatly use you throughout your life, but He can’t if you fall away from Him. The devil is very vigilant to distract Christians from being faithful to God. One misstep or one wrong turn and the devil can take you away from God and keep you from finishing your course with joy.

Are you on the right path today? Are you faithfully serving God? Remember that the Christian life is not a sprint but a marathon. You may fall and you may step away from God at times, but repent of it, seek God’s forgiveness, and get right back on track. Only when you are vigilant to keep sin out of your life will you be able to look back at the end of your life and say not “It might have been” but “Look what God did.”

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Daily Bible Reading
Leviticus 26-27 • Mark 2

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