Tuesday, January 5, 2010

If only…..?

It is beginning of the year when our thoughts turn naturally to how things can be different in our lives.  Unfortunately, too many get caught in the game of “if only….”  Actually a lot of people are really good playing that game.  “If only I was__________(fill in the blank), THEN I would be happy.”  For those who are single, “if only I was married.”  And the list goes on.  “If only I weighed twenty pounds less, if only I had straight hair, if only I had curly hair, if only I lived in New York, if only I drove a snazzy car, if only I was taller or shorter, if only I had a better boss, if only it wasn’t so cold here, if only it wasn’t so hot”.  People complain about the weather (wherever you live), the traffic, the schools, the crime, their spouses, their kids, the dog.

     If only’s paralyze you for what you need to be doing right now.

     If only’s keep you from seeing God’s faithfulness today.

     If only’s question God’s goodness.

     If only is as old as the garden of Eden.  “If only I eat the fruit, then I will be God.”  Eve set us on an elusive trail to seek personal happiness without God.  If only is conditional on external circumstances.  NOTHING is ever right or perfect.  The Bible calls it “grumbling.”  Even as the persecuted Israelites fled Pharoah’s army, they cried outloud, “if only we had never left Egypt”.  “We’re thirsty”.  God gave them water.  “We’re hungry”.  God gave them manna every morning.  All they had to do was pick it up off the ground.  And even, “we’re tired of manna”.  And God gave them quail.  On and on and on.  Yep, sounds like whining to me.

     Paul states in the book of Philippians, “Not that I complain of want, for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want.  I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4. 11-13)  He actually wrote these words from prison.

     Contentment comes from the reality of God at the core of who you are.  It is motivated by a source of strength, not by personal desperation.  And for those who have committed their lives to something beyond themselves through Christ, “if only” takes a different spin.  Instead of “if only” being a cry of discontent, it is a shout of restoration.  Because we live in a fallen world – we all recognize that – we should be seeking restoration of the world, turning things right side up.  In that case, “if only” has nothing to do with an elusive quest of an empty life,  but everything to do with a redeemed heart.

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