Looking at ”What Ifs” in a Different Way
”What ifs?” These words are both encouraging and discouraging depending on if you’re looking at the past or the future. When we question the ”what if” I had done that instead of this or ”what if” I had said this rather than that, the path in front of us becomes so dark that we become immovable. We get stuck in the rut of the past and unable to move forward. But ”what ifs” don’t have to immobilize us from moving forward. The ”what ifs” of life can present an exciting challenge for the future.
When we view the ”what ifs” in life as a challenge, the future opens to a whole new realm. Such was the case of the small church with an ever-dwindling membership. Their pastor asked them to predict the future by challenging them with 4 ”what ifs.” He asked his congregation to do four simple things for only a month to consecrate themselves for the coming year and see what might happen.
- Pray every day.
- Fast one day a week.
- Tithe weekly.
- Bring one unsaved person to church each week.
The ”what ifs” challenge resulted in an unprecedented discovery in the life of the church. The results certainly trended as the then and now depicted marked improvements in all 4 challenges. God’s presence marked the services in an increased way. This was a direct result of members praying every day and fasting once a week. By all members tithing regularly on a weekly basis, financial breakthroughs occurred as ministry projects and proposed buildings became more than a dream. But the greatest ”what ifs” challenge result was that by the members bringing in one unsaved person to church a week the church entered a remarkable season of bringing lost souls into God’s kingdom.
The ”What if” Challenge
So, ”what if” we took the challenge and pursued God starting today? ”What if” we dedicated our life entirely to Him and pushed forward instead of remaining stuck in the past of has-been or regrets? ”What if” we forgot the then and just lived for the now?
Have you ever ”Googled” anything? I confess that I am a Google junkie when I want answers quickly. Just today, my daughter asked me where the term jaywalking came from. I didn’t know and suggested she ”Google it.” (answer at the end of this post) Did you know that you can determine at any point what the top Google searches are in a given day or even the year? I didn’t until recently, but I became curious about what the top searches were from last year and learned many things, but the one that caught my eye was ”how to move forward.” As I thought about that, I wondered if these many searchers found themselvesÂ stuck between the then and now. Were these ”Googlers” living in a world of ”what ifs” of the past instead of the ”what ifs” of the future?
Bad things occur in the world daily because we live in a world filled with sin. But the often- overwhelming world we live in can see a difference if we take the positive challenge of ”what ifs.” When we challenge ourselves to be a missionary every day instead of once a week or only when we see a need, we can help not only others but ourselves experience a positive future of moving forward. ”What if” by showing Christ to the local store clerk, person on the street, or the actual neighbor next door; we help not only move our own life forward but someone else’s too?
A True Missionary Never Leaves Home
Too often, we think that being a missionary is a calling only for a few select. But we don’t have to be called halfway around the world to be a missionary. In fact, it’s easier to love our neighbor on a mission trip when we are only interacting with that person on a temporary basis. But it is something different to love our literal neighbor. You know, the one, that parks in front of your house, plays loud music, or allows their dogs to bark at all hours of the night? But with the hope and promises of Christ, our lives fill with love. We can let go of the past insecurities of life and look forward to what God will help us become right here and now as we move forward and bring our neighbors with us.
When we press on toward the real goal in life, we build our relationship with Christ now. This allows us to remember that the war has already been won for our future and we are on the side of victory. As we move forward we can do so with love showing the love of Christ to the men and women that God places in our life path. When we look to the future, we can’t dwell in the past with the regrets of ”what ifs.” Instead, we grow in the knowledge of God by staying single-minded with Christ in our scope as God lights our path to the future.
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13 (NLT)
Positive ”What Ifs”
Can you make your ”what ifs” a positive for the future rather than the regrets of the past? By looking forward to a fuller and more meaningful life you secure your faith and hope in Christ. When you fully grasp and come to an understanding that you are fully forgiven, then you can move forward to a life of faith and obedience. No, matter what your past may hold, like the Apostle Paul, you can let go of the past as you look to God. Making Him your goal in life, you not only learn what it is like to know Christ and be like Christ, but then you advance to being all that Christ has in mind for you.
When you lay aside everything that distracts you from being who you are meant to be in Christ then your discouraging ”what ifs” become encouraging ones. The ”then” no longer matters as you live in the ”now” not allowing anything to hold you back. When you reach this plateau, your encouraging life sends an encouraging message to others.
Won’t you take the challenge of positive ”what ifs” in your life by forgetting the past and living for the future? Allow your convictions to make you single-minded and work only for the goal of Christ. Find motivation in knowing that you are forgiven and because of your hope in Christ, you can let go and let God take control. Lastly, comfort yourself in the knowledge that you serve a loving God that wants only the best you can be and is ready to help you achieve it.
Â Love in Christ,
For those inquiring minds who want to know the origin of jaywalking. You can seek the details through Merriam-Webster’s website at https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/why-is-it-called-jaywalking. But the skinny is that jaywalking is a compound word from ”jay” meaning a silly person and walking. Today jaywalking alignsÂ with pedestrians but the earliest references to ”jay” behavior in the roadways were about horse-drawn carriages and automobiles. It seems around 1905 in Kansas: a ”jay driver” was one that did not drive on the correct side of the street. The term quickly expanded to pedestrians. By 1909, The Chanute Daily Tribune warned, ”The jaywalker needs attention as well as the jay driver, and is about as big a nuisance.
What are Your Thoughts?
Have you ever played the ”what if” game? Did you play the game in a positive or negative manner? Share your thoughts on challenging yourself to a positive future by using ”what if” to propel yourself and others into a meaningful future with Christ.
Credits Meyer, J. (2013). Promises for Your Everyday Life Devotional. Fenton: Joyce Meyer Ministries.