Have you ever played that mind game with yourself, “If only….”? Maybe you have even played it with your closet friends talking aloud or seeing someone win the lottery on the nightly news.
If only, I lived there instead of here. If only, I had a million dollars I could follow my dream. If only, I were thin and beautiful like her I would have a lot of friends. If only, I were different than who I am now.
What it means to follow Jesus
There have been plenty of times, I played the “if only” game throughout my life. I wondered why God placed me in the most useless place or circumstance. As I measured myself against others, I would sigh and wonder when it would be my turn to be happy, to be at peace, or to feel fulfilled. It is so easy to fall into this “if only” game with social media showing us how much fun or how happy others seemingly are by their vacation, party photos, and joyous announcements.
The “if only” game is a trap we must avoid at all costs.
“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:21-25 (GW)
Jesus never measured His life by how or where He was the greatest use. He did not think the way we do, but how God thinks. He never defended, argued back, or vindicated Himself because He knew God’s character and understood His purpose.
What then is my purpose where I am planted now?
“So I can guarantee that God’s angels are happy about one person who turns to God and changes the way he thinks and acts.” Luke 15:10 (GW)
I find it freeing in Jesus’ example of never defending or arguing about God’s character. He went about the purpose God put Him on earth to accomplish. He suffered and died for me to save me from my sins. Why must I complain? We never have to play the “if only” game with God. Christ accomplished our “if only.”
”If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
So then, those who suffer according to God’s Will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” 1 Peter 4:14-19 (GW)
I must never measure my life against another person. God is the director of my life. We each have our own place and purpose for the glory of God. When I refuse to play the “if only” game as a follower of Jesus, I am totally incapable of judging where I am to be. I satisfy His heart when I make others strong and mature in God.
“I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, I pray that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that no evil may have power over me. Amen.”
(Adapted from Martin Luther’s Morning Prayer)
Getting to know God
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God’s Blessings to You,
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