If Only

Many of us have had periods of life that we have simply spun our wheels and drifted through life.  Some of us have never been able to do anything else.  Many a person, me included has looked at their life and said ‘if only…’

‘If only I hadn’t…’

‘If only I had that new ….’

‘If only I had been born into a different family’

‘If only I had different parents’

‘If only I had lived in another time’

Or we looked at other people and compared our lives to theirs and  said

‘If only I had their …’

‘If only I could be like …’

I agree with Mercedes Lackey who said “If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.” To many lives and to much potential has been wasted with the excuse “If only”.   Many things in my own life have gone past and I have found myself saying the same thing.  And for many people the same could be said.   We allow our lives to be governed by the things we wish we had, instead of pursuing life and allowing it to be full of what could be. Someone once said “If we spend our time with regrets over yesterday, and worries over what might happen tomorrow, we have no today in which to live.” If all we focus on is what we don’t have we are powerless to change our situation.  We end up with the same problem as ‘happiness is…’  “I’ll be happy when I get …”  The remark could be filled in hundreds of ways.  But in the end we are never able to achieve happiness because we are spending our time chasing something external and happiness is achieved internally.

The same can be said about the phrase ‘If only..’  We are chasing externals looking to be like someone else instead of being ourselves, or spending our time focusing on the past and regretting instead of looking to our future.  Victoria Holt once said “Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.” Our lives are determined by our focus.  And only we can change our focus.   To spend our time looking at what we don’t have or what could have been means that we will completely miss the potential future we have in store for us.  Alexander Graham Bell said it best when he said “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Only we can determine how far we will go, and how far we will go is determined by what we focus on.  We each have infinite and wonderful potential to achieve.  God created each one of us and He doesn’t make junk.  Our choice is whether we live our potential our waste away chasing all our “If only’s”

Living a Christian Life in a Changing World

Our world is changing rapidly around us. Some would say that it is for the better. Some would argue that we are getting worse not better. We have all noticed things that have and are changing.

The way children speaking to their parents and elders

Programs on prime time tv

Content in our movies

Top 10 books

Our lifestyles – looking for more comfort.

Our worlds motto is fast becoming, as so eloquently put by Jakob Poirer, of Canada’s Worst Driver “I do what I want. If I want to learn, I will learn, and if I don’t I’ll flip you the bird.” We are becoming a society that simply does what it wants, when it wants. The bible puts it a different way “the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” Judges 17:6   And with all that is going on around us how do we manage to live a life pleasing to God?   I think there are a few things we need to do.

1. Recognize that Christianity is not about perfection.

To many of us Christians are struggling to “be perfect”.  We heard someone teach and use the scripture “Be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect” and we try to govern our lives and live a life full of rules and obligations that we feel will make us perfect some how.  We put on a good face for other Christians hoping beyond hope that they won’t see through our thin veneer of perfection to the total disaster we are living.  We know we aren’t following our “holiness code” and aren’t ‘measuring up’ to what we think God wants for us, and we are hoping that with a little more time and effort maybe tomorrow will be different.  This is also  why the world thinks we are a bunch of hypocrites.  Because we are selling a life that we cannot live ourselves.  And it isn’t working.  I love what Rick Warren said; “If the horse is dead, dismount.”

Our struggle will never make us acceptable to God.  Ever.  Only when we truly realize this can the life of God flow in us and bring about the changes that are necessary.  This is what Paul was talking about in Romans 7.  He fully knew that on his own he could never be what God wanted.  It is also how he could say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” and “Not I that lives, but Christ who lives in me.” Paul understood that no effort of his own could ever make him “perfect”.  Only the life of Jesus in him.  We are made perfect through the sacrifice of Jesus and only through the sacrifice of Jesus.  Time for the church to put down the religious rules and recognize the fact that we cannot attain what we are trying to attain, and stop fighting to get what cannot be got.  This was the whole purpose of the law of Moses in the first place.  The law was simply there to reveal our inadequacy and our inability to be what God designed us to be on our own.  It is also why Jesus came and died.  So that through Him we could be who God designed us to be.

2. We need to hear God’s voice.

If we were purposed for something it would stand to reason that we need to hear from the designer what that purpose was.  Otherwise we would be buying a coffee maker and trying to use it for a fuel pump and getting very frustrated when it didn’t work very well.  It sounds obvious but we try to do the same thing.  Christianity is simply a relationship with our Creator and Saviour, simply taking His hand and allowing Him to make us into the very thing He designed and created us to be.  Each one of us was made for a purpose.  God doesn’t make junk and there are no mistakes in heaven.  So we need to hear God so we can learn and fulfill our purpose.

3. We need to picture God’s vision.

Everyone of us is the same.  Without vision, we will naturally wander aimlessly and waste our lives on nothing of any significance. And that is not what we were created to do.  We all have a purpose and only when we discover it can we focus on it.  When we travel it is always good to have a map so we know where we are going, because without one it is very easy to get side tracked by things and lost completely and as a result never end up at our destination.  And life is the same way.  Without and vision and focus it is easy to get lost completely and never become who we were meant to become.  And that doesn’t mean that life is necessarily wasted.  What is best in life can most often get completely lost under what is good in life.  Only when we have a overshadowing picture of where we are headed can we set aside what is good for what is best and walk away from the distractions and rabbit trails and get to our destination.

4.  We need to adopt God’s values.

Christian life cannot be lived out any way we see fit.  We cannot pick and choose what we believe and what we don’t believe.  And we cannot decide that this religion has good points and that faith has some good points and become an amalgamation of parts of various beliefs.  If we are to live a Christian life we need to focus on what God values.  A Survey by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life/The Pew Reasearch Center for the People and the Press… a recent survey:

Paranormal Possibilities … The percentage of American adults who say they have supernatural beliefs and experiences…

Have been in touch with the dead
Total adult population – 29%
Christians – 29%

Have seen or been in the presence of God
Total adult population – 18%
Christians – 17%

Have consulted a psychic
Total adult population – 15%
Christians – 14%

Believe in astrology
Total adult population – 25%
Christians – 23%

Believe in reincarnation
Total adult population – 24%
Christians – 22%

Believe in “evil eye,” i.e. the casting of curses
Total adult population – 16%
Christians – 17%

Believe spiritual energy exists in physical things like mountains, trees and crystals
Total adult population – 26%
Christians – 23%

Christianity is about living in a relationship with God and living our lives under His direction and with His values.  Christians have gotten themselves so distracted by the life and world going on around us that we have lost sight what is important.  Time for us to set aside the rules and regulations, we can’t live up to them anyway, and allow the life of God to invade our hearts and minds and truly become who we were meant to become.

How does God see you?

Many of us struggle in different ways with our self image.  In fact most  people you talk with would admit to having a fairly low self image no matter how successful they appear.  Some never seem to overcome their image of  themselves and others struggle to achieve to compensate for it.  There are people who are fairly confident and sure of themselves, but most struggle.  This is often because the most important people in our lives have criticized us or challenged decisions we made or made fun our failures.  Or they told us we would never amount to anything.  I am sure most of us have heard variants of all of this.  And as a result to struggle under that image or we fight to prove those people wrong.

I was one of those people.  And I am learning I don’t have to struggle.  How am I learning this you ask?  Because I came to know how God sees me.  Once I learned this I can then place less emphasis on what others think and say.  So how does God see you and I?

First God sees us as valuable. The scriptures teach that Jesus gave up all He had in heaven to come to earth, live like you and I, and then to take our punishment upon Himself.  Because of the decision Adam made we were all born separated from God.  And because of the wrong things we have all done.  But God designed each of us for relationship.  A relationship with Him first and then with others.  Without relationships people wither and die inside.  This is because relationships are an integral need for each one of us.  The bible’s most famous verse says that Jesus came because God loved us so much and that through Him we could have eternal life. John 3:16.  But many people have interpreted eternal life wrong.  Eternal life isn’t to live forever.  Every life conceived is eternal in nature.  Eternal life simply means that we are able to have relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent. John 17:3.  God created us for relationship and we broke that relationship and couldn’t ever hope to rebuild it on our own.  So Jesus came and died and rose again so that we could again have relationship with us.  God sees you and I as extremely valuable. You and I are worth dying for.

Second God sees us as acceptable. We don’t have to struggle and work to achieve the acceptance of God like we do with people.  The most hurtful thing we can ever experience in life is rejection.  When we are rejected our most basic need is denied and we all struggle with getting past this.  And we often struggle to show people how good and ‘perfect’ we are so they will accept us.   Unfortunately none of us are perfect nor will we ever be perfect.  But that doesn’t stop us from trying.  We put on a good face never letting people see what is really going on inside each of us.  And we do the same with God.  And we don’t have to.  God invites each one of us to come to Him simply as we are.  Besides He already knows everything about us.  We don’t have to hide.   We can accept the work of Jesus for us and receive the gift of eternal life, recognizing that there is nothing we can do at all to achieve acceptance from Him, and no way that we can gain anything from Him on our own merit.  Nothing we can do can make us any more or less acceptable to God.

Thirdly God sees us as capable. Paul understood this concept very well.  He said “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So what does that mean you ask?  It simply means that there is nothing that God will ask me to do that I am unable to do because of the work and life of Jesus in me.  And even if I make a mess the bible says God “works everything for good”.  So even my messes God turns into great masterpieces.  With Jesus I am capable of all things.

Fourthly God sees us as lovable. God loves us completely and totally as we are.  In fact God won’t love you any more tomorrow than He does today, and will love you no less.  God’s love is always on extravagant.  There is no other setting.  We are acceptable to Him because of that love, and through the work of Jesus on the cross.  God loves each of us totally and completely without reservation, or ration or restraint.  God doesn’t love anyone more or less than anyone else, and He doesn’t have bad hair days.  His love is complete and total.    In fact it could be said that He could live without us so He died for us.

Lastly God sees us as forgivable. Because of Jesus God can forgive our sins.  There is nothing we can do that God cannot forgive, and not life is to far gone for Him to rescue.  Jesus didn’t come to the world to condemn it. He came to reveal the heart of God towards us and show us that we are accepted, forgivable, lovable,valuable, and capable.  There is nothing more important to God than you and I.

Now we can choose to believe this or simply decide that it doesn’t matter.  It is really up to us.  We can receive the gift of life offered by God or ignore it.  But I would welcome you to see yourself as God sees you.  It will totally change your life.  I know because it totally changed mine.