Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What if? EVEN if.

The question "What if?" has been a prominent feature in my life. It's been a source of great stress and discomfort, and it could be followed by any number of possibilities based on fear. "What if they don't like me?" "What if I don't get the job?" "What if they say no?" "What if I don't get into that school?"  "What if they laugh at me?" ... the list is endless.  

And there's never an answer. The question hangs out there and begs fear to jump all over it and create all kinds of worst-case scenarios. And I have been blessed (although sometimes it doesn't FEEL like a blessing) a vivid imagination. 

The What If question even carries through to my spiritual life. "What if I don't pray fervently enough?" "What if I fail?" "What if I let Him down?" 

It dawned on me this evening that my performance, my success, is not the point. I put so much pressure on myself and it's (unfortunately) been drummed into me by the church as much as any other institution. I keep acting as though love is conditional, grace can only go so far, and my destiny can be influenced by how good I am at doing all those things I have been conditioned to do in order to get God to notice me: pray, meditate, fast, read the Word, go to church, attend Bible study, etc., etc., ... 

I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with those things. I am saying that if I am depending on my adherence to some standard set by someone else of what my behavior should be (there's that "S word" again) I will end up chasing my tail and winding up in defeat because I have forgotten that He is my source, He gives grace beyond measure, and He is the One on whom salvation rests (not me, thank God!!)

Photo "Sun In The Sky" courtesy of
graur razvan ionut at
Instead of asking "What if I fail?" or "What if I'm not saying the right words?" or whatever the question of the moment is, I wonder what would happen if I replaced my WHAT with an EVEN. ... 

An EVEN would prompt me to finish the sentence instead of dreaming up those worst-case scenarios. Here's an example. Take the question, "What if I fail?"  Hmmm.  That becomes "EVEN if I fail..."   "Even if I fail, He never does."  "Even if I don't say it right, God knows my heart and He cares about me."  "Even if I let Him down ... He's never let ME down."  "Even if I let go of Him, He still has hold of me. He stays faithful even if I've lost faith." 

His constancy is something I depend upon. It is my life.

It doesn't mean that I don't try; it means that my focus has shifted from my efforts to His sufficiency. It causes me to be grateful, not boastful when I "succeed" or despondent when I "fail." All that performance-based, rules-based living is nothing but a religious trap. 

I can be confident in His love. It's the one thing He keeps saying to me over and over again. "I love you." Even if my own love back to Him pales in comparison (and let's face it, we can never ever match His love, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, kindness, patience, you name it! Even if my love pales in comparison (and it does) ... His love is strong, passionate, enduring, and all-encompassing.

And it gives me something that all the "What ifs" in the world don't give me. It gives me joy - His joy - which, after all, infuses me deep inside with His supernatural strength.

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