April 2009


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“What we do to each other, we do to ourselves.” – Paula A. Franzese

My mind has been plagued by “What if?”s lately. What if this hadn’t happened? What if I had not said this? What if? What if? WHAT IF?

We are told to not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about it’s own things; sufficient for the day is its own troubles. We aren’t told anything about worrying about yesterday and wondering what things would be like if it had been different. But something about this thought process strikes me as wrong and flawed. There is something quite contrary to the notion that we are to always be in positive action that clashes with a mind caught in the past and what has happened.

There is also something that reeks of ingratitude about it. In the prayer of thanksgiving, we give thanks for every condition, in any condition, and concerning every condition. But a thought process devoted to wondering what if the past had been different does not give thanks for the past conditions. It is the very essence of ingratitude. It is defiantly telling God, “I may say I trust in Your will and that all that You do for me is done for the best, but I still think I could have worked it out better.”

This thought process also robs us of our ability to rejoice, and we are told to rejoice always. When caught in what has been and what could have been, there is no room left to rejoice in the present moment. There is no room to give thanks for now. There is no room to live.

There may not be an express warning about getting lost in the “What if?”s of yesterday (that I know of, if you have any please share) but the very thought process contradicts several of the commands we are given. I cannot submit my present will to Him if I cannot accept His past will for me. Time to leave “What if?” in the past.

“Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel” (Joshua 24:23)

Joshua was speaking to the Israelites in this short verse, telling them to cease the worship of the idols brought in among them by the foreign people they were coming into contact with and to cleave to the Lord. The instruction was simple, “put away… the strange gods which are among you…” Unfortunately, the Israelites did not do this and suffered as a result.

Now perhaps we live in a time where not many of us will be enticed into the worship of a golden calf, but we all hold onto our strange gods fervently. The term “strange god” has a mutable meaning, which allows it to take on the sign of the times. Worship of the golden calf turns into worship of the dollar bill, the human body and its desires (or lack thereof), our friends, our families, our significant others… the list can go interminably. Anything¬† placed ahead of Christ in the heart or the mind is a strange god.

What makes our strange gods far worse than those of the Israelites and their golden calf is the fact that our strange gods can be kept hidden deep within us so that no one has to know. If only it were as simple as bowing down to a golden calf. How many of us would be brave enough to parade our strange god so publicly? But we don’t. We keep our strange god locked deep within our hearts and souls and actively running through our minds and as the love of it increases, the love of Christ decreases. And as Christ diminishes in our lives, everything begins to deteriorate. The Israelites turned from God and were overcome by their enemies and so the same thing happens to us.

“…incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel.” He does not ask for much, only for your heart. The question that we all must answer becomes: will I give it? If there is any hesitation within you, look to the cross and there you will find your answer. He who created you was born and died in the most painful way for you. How can you not give Him your heart? It seems as if it is too little to ask of us.

“Verily, verily I say unto you, today you shall be with me in paradise,” came the proclamation.
Yet, I cannot remember where I came from.
But I know I desperately wish to return.
It is cold and dark here and the roof has sprung a leak.

I seem to have run into a small problem lately. Like the majority of girls and women out there, I have my arsenal of beauty products that I keep at the ready. Out of these products there are some that are used quite often and on a regular basis, like my facial lotion or my face wash. Within the past few months, I ventured out into the retail world at different times to restock on some of my basics, and each time I would come back empty-handed. The answer from the store clerk was the same each time I asked for something, “Sorry miss, it’s been discontinued.” I would go home, sorely disappointed and mourning the loss of my dependable product that has been a part of my life for a good amount of time.

I was telling a friend of my recent dilemma over lunch and she simply laughed out loud and said, “Your life has been discontinued.” I too had to laugh at that, because it was such an extreme statement. No, my life had not been discontinued, but calling the discontinuation of various products a “dilemma” was just as dramatic of a statement. My dilemma is no dilemma at all. I will simply find replacement products, which will most likely be even better than the ones I had been loyal to for so long.

And so the same can be said for all things in life. We have things that we deem to be essential and necessary to us and our lives and we are devastated when they’re taken away in one manner or another. We get angry and yell things out toward the heavens like “Why, oh God, why?” God must be punishing us for taking away the things we’ve deemed good. But that could not be farther from the truth.

When we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done,” and we truly mean it, then we trust that all things done in our lives and all things that happen are done for goodness. God may take away something seemingly good to us and it may hurt and the loss may be hard but He is only making room for what is even better. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)