All of us, at one time or another, have said “what if?” What if I had never taken this job? What if I had moved sooner? What if I hadn’t bought this lemon of a car? What if my mom and dad wouldn’t have been abusive? What if I had raised my kids better? What if a certain person hadn’t died? What if I was a movie star…or professional sports athlete…or music performer? There is no end to the “what ifs” in life. We all have at least a few.
But we don’t have “what if”. We only have what IS. I actually heard that statement on Adventures in Odyssey (find this wonderful series here) the other day and it really struck me. You see, I had been saying “if only” about a particular issue in my life fairly frequently lately. I wish I would have done something in the past and I didn’t do it. So now what? Can I go back and change it? Can I change any consequences of my past decision? Can I wave a magic wand and make everything all better? Of course not.
So, perhaps, it would be better to focus on the what IS. Instead of regretting the past, let’s be thankful we are no longer there and move on with God’s strength and guidance, thankful for the life lessons we have learned. Instead of wishing for a different life, let’s focus on the life we have and live it with enthusiasm and a grateful heart. Instead of wishing we didn’t live in a particular house or drive a particular car, let’s stop complaining and be content or take the necessary steps to buy something that suits our family better.
Through it all, we need to be examining our hearts. Should I even want a better car or house? Why do I want to be a movie star? What am I so upset about the past? We may even find out that our desire isn’t from God, but from our own selfish motives. However, oftentimes, it isn’t about anything like that, but instead it is frustration at something we did or didn’t do and we cannot now go back and change. Or we are grieving and lost and lonely because of something that happened outside of our control. So what about that?
Let’s try to focus on possible good that has come because of unfavorable circumstances. Perhaps a friendship grew out of a mutual desire to live a frugal life because of a lack of income. Or someone came to know the Lord because you delayed in making that decision to leave your job as soon as you believe you should have. Maybe you came to know the Lord because of your abusive background. Only God can see how the consequences and circumstances have changed not only your life, but the lives of others, as well.
We can only live our lives and make decisions based on what we know (which is why it is so important to know scripture!) and then we need to leave the rest up to God. He, in His sovereignty, will guide us and we need only to submit ourselves to His will for our lives. After that step, then we need to make the best of wherever it is we find ourselves in life. Instead of living with regrets, let’s live with a passionate commitment to Christ and a heart of gratitude. Let’s be devoted to making the very best of where we find ourselves right now– at this very moment.
Instead of focusing on what IFs, let’s focus on what IS.