“WHAT IF?”A regular question in my vocabulary, once filled with faith, vision, and opportunity. Over the last several months, the question has remained but is now attached to fear, frustration, and worst-case scenarios.
It was a subtle switch. I wasn’t fully aware of what had taken place. But it certainly changed. I didn’t realize just how much I’d been affected by the difficulties of my Lyme treatment while working full-time and going to seminary. Until yesterday.
Yesterday was the last Sunday of 2018 and, after many weeks away, I wanted to make it to service. I’m grateful for live stream on the tough Sunday mornings but it’s no replacement for worshipping God with the family of God. I knew I needed to make it to Fellowship Dallas. God knew it, too.
Besides, bumping into your life group leaders is way better in person than on Facebook. Emoji hugs just aren’t the same. 🤗
Right when I was about to walk into the sanctuary, I heard that my DTS friend, Adam, was preaching. He doesn’t preach regularly on Sundays so I was excited to hear from him. And anticipation filled my soul because I was excited to hear from HIM. I immediately had a feeling it would be no ordinary Sunday.
The title of the sermon was “What If?” Adam started it off with two questions:
- What if you come alive again?
- What if God is who He says He is?
As soon as I saw the questions on the screen, before Adam even went into the text (Isaiah 42), I felt a tug in my heart and tears in my eyes. This was a divine set-up. God had something for me to hear and I was alert. I filled pages in my notebook with all that was shared and all the Lord was revealing to me – about the condition of my heart and about the kindness of His.
The discouragement kicked in hard this Christmas week. My heart had gotten crusty. While I was grateful for the rest and time with my parents, I was not feeling well most of the week. So I was left with my thoughts, which were filled with a lot of disappointment. And wow. I’d not realized how many negative what-ifs were bouncing around inside of me until Sunday morning.
“What if seminary was a mistake?”
“What if I always live paycheck to paycheck?”
“What if I’m not cut out for this counseling thing?”
“What if I lose my loved ones?”
“What if I never feel better?”
My focus in all those what-ifs (mentioned and unmentioned) wasn’t Jesus. It was me, myself, and I. And totally driven by fear. Years ago, I never would have considered myself to be fearful. But as of late, that has changed. I sat in the service and saw it clearly. In my hardship, I’d searched less for an opportunity to give God glory and more for a way to find relief. But when the focus shifts to Christ, peace is sure to follow. The peace that makes no sense. The peace that surpasses all understanding, even when the circumstances don’t change or the answer isn’t what I would have chosen. I needed that peace again.
2018 wasn’t all bad. I turned 40 (which was great!). My parents bought a house in Texas. I grew a lot, learned a lot, and laughed a lot. I was even a super-hero for a few hours. But the second half of the year wasn’t so super and I’m ready to put the year behind me. Even more so, I’m ready to surrender the funky what-ifs in my heart. There are many. Why do I waste time worrying about tomorrow? About things that may never even happen? God is already in 2019. His grace is already sufficient.
I’m praying for my 2019 what-ifs to be filled with faith again.
“What if I sing a new song of surrender to the Lord?”
“What if I glorify God in the midst of Lyme Disease?”
“What if God answers prayers for others that I’ve been praying for decades?”
“What if God does beyond what I could ask or imagine?”
“What if I come alive again?”
“What if God is who He says He is?”
I praise God for the way He orchestrated my Sunday morning. The words shared were exactly what I needed to hear. A day later, I’m still thinking about it (and a day later, I already need to remind myself. Daily surrender!). I rejoice in the reminder that God hears. He sees. He knows. He cares. Not just about me, but you as well.
What if we believe God in 2019?
Let’s do it.