“If not us, who? If not now, when? – John F. Kennedy
“The ‘What-If’s’ and ‘Should-Have’s’ will eat your brain.” – John O’Callahan
Each and every one of us is on some sort of spiritual journey – learning lessons about ourselves and others as life unfolds. When I think about those lessons, two come immediately to mind: Facing what might have been and handling the uncertainty of what might come.
“I shouldn’t have done what I did. That one mistake has cost me so much that is hurts deeply to think about it.”
“I wish I could go back in time and tell her again and again how much she meant to me! Maybe she would see me differently today. I loved her so much, what if I could have done more so she loved me the same way in return?”
“I should have taken that job offer. If I did, my life would be so much better now!”
“I wonder if I would be so sick today if I would have lived a healthier life.”
“Now they’re gone….and I never got a chance to let them know how important they were to me.”
“What if my cancer comes out of remission? What will I do?”
“What if he leaves me? How will I ever make it on my own?”
What am I going to do if they lay me off this year? How am I going to provide for my family?”
“What if I can’t come up with the money for the house payment again? We are so far behind I’m afraid the bank might foreclose on us soon!”
In the quote from John O’Callahan above, I can connect with my brain being devoured with thoughts of what might have been – with the worries of what might happen tomorrow.
How about you? Do you ever catch yourself thinking like this? If you do, consider the following:
Life is More Predestined Than We Realize
I know this is a sensitive theological point, but when you think about our choices, the sovereignty and omniscience of God, and Scripture verses that support the idea, there seems to be a more predestined aspect to our lives then we realize. I wrote a book entitled “Walking our Predestined Pathway” that addresses the concept of a predetermined pathway and how we surrender our choices to that created purpose for us – the reason we are here.
Yes…we have the power to make choices, however; that fact needs to be linked with another fact: God is omniscient – having the ability to know past, present and future. This makes God totally aware of every choice we will ever make – long before we make them. He works within those choices – crafting circumstances, events, and situations that direct us back to His purposes for us here.
The Scriptures say that “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”(Psalm 139:16), that He “knows the plans He has for us” (Jerimiah 29:11), and that “No one can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it.” (Lamentations 3:37). The Bible talks about God’s involvement in hardening the hearts of people (Romans 9:18), softening them (Ezekiel 11:19), and moving them to do what He desires them to do (Ezra 1:1 and 5).
So how much of our lives then are crafted in a fashion that fits God’s ultimate purposes? If He is aware of every choice we will make, does he use this knowledge to design a way for us through this life that meets those plans, that fulfills greater purposes that surround his will for us and that help us to attain our created purpose here?
What if (no pun intended) the “what-if’s” we have about our past aren’t really relevant? If we are here to fulfill a specific purpose, to learn or experience specific happiness, hardship, or lessons along the way, wouldn’t it makes sense that God is intricately involved in the outcome – already well aware of the choices we will make?
Sometimes I think it’s our ego at work – thinking if we could go back and change our decision or choice, we would have changed our destiny. Seems slightly arrogant to think we are in total control when it is clear through Scripture that God is ultimately in control! Our choices matter, but God is several steps ahead of us.
We often hear the cliché “Everything happens for a reason.”….but do we really believe that? If we did, the “what-if’s” and “should-have’s” of the past would no longer hold us hostage – imprisoning our minds in thoughts of what might have been.
The “What-If’s”of the Future and the “Should-Have’s” of the Past are Unchanging and Unpredictable
When our egos begin to engage us in “what if” thinking, we need to realize the feudal nature of these kinds of thoughts. They get us nowhere, change nothing, and increase our anxiety and despair in the process. Our “should-have” attitude cannot change a past history that is immutable. “What-if” conjectures regarding the future are illusionary – nothing short of fabricating a potential outcome that may never materialize.
We must trust God with both, seeing His omniscient guidance of our past and His omniscient awareness of what lies ahead – surrendering our will to His own.
You see….our lives have unfolded to this point as they should have – each blessing, heartache, burden, and achievement – all guided by a loving God to equip us for the future that lies ahead 🙂
Think about that for a second as it relates to our future. The past has perfectly prepared us for what is to come, so each step moving forward is preparing us for what awaits us next. So “what-if” thinking is fruitless and ineffectual. It’s ego based – filled with fear and a need to control. Releasing the outcomes and trusting God’s omniscient intervention within our individual choices is faith-filled – spiritually encompassing peace and humility at its core.
Only God knows what lies ahead, and He promises to make our paths straight if we lean on Him versus our own understanding and reasoning (Proverbs 3: 5-6)
Think of “What-If’s” as they Relate to RIGHT NOW
God is omnisciently working within our choices – pushing us toward our created purpose and destiny. But still, those choices we make matter. God’s awareness and loving intervention of them do not in any way diminish our personal responsibility to make good choices – well thought out “next steps” that are centered in His principles for living.
Given this, let’s put a POSITIVE spin on “what if” thinking – using it daily to push us toward a greater, more fulfilling life.
”What if I took my spouse aside today, held them close, looked them in the eyes, and truly told them how much they mean to me? What if that one step started a meaningful, positive change in our relationship?”
“What if I committed some of my time today – taking one needed step toward fulfilling a life-long dream? What if it took me one step closer to making it a reality?”
“What if I went out of my way today to help someone I know is in need? What if that single act of kindness was a tipping point that changed their situation moving forward?”
“What if I spent more time with my children – more time listening and more time learning about what they face in their world right now? What if it changed how they saw things?”
“What if I spoke a kind word of encouragement – lifting up a friend who needed it today? Would it strengthen our bond together? What if that single thing started a friendship I cherished for life?”
“What if I spent time meditating and praying today – focusing on my health and healing? What if I gave it to God – trusting Him with my future and making me whole again? Would it change me?”
This kind of “what if” thinking ties so perfectly with the John Kennedy quote above. You can make a difference today – in your life and in the lives of others.
If not now, when?
I hope tonight you start thinking about all your “what-if’s” and “should-have’s” differently than you have before. I hope you begin to see them in the light of a loving, omniscient God who is actively at work within each choice you make – both good and bad. I pray you start to see the predestined nature of your journey here – embracing the concept that “everything happens for a reason.” When it comes to God, those reasons are always filled with a loving kindness and a desired, joyful outcome in the end – whether or not we currently see it or understand it.
Stop with the “what-if’s” and “should-have’s” of the past. God has always been aware of your choices. He’s clearing the path, opening the right doors, and laying the necessary ground work for you to fulfill your created purpose – the destiny you are here to achieve.
I hope you begin to see how the past, filled with either light or darkness, has set you up for the future you are about to experience. Release the “what-if’s” of the future to a God who has brought you this far already – never intending to leave you or abandon you in the process.
Most importantly, start asking yourself the “what if” questions that pertain to RIGHT NOW. Contemplate them and the effect they can have. Use the power behind your gift of choice to make your life and the lives of those you touch better NOW.
If not us today my friend….who? If not NOW….when?
God bless you always and forever! 🙂