If….Then

You’ve heard them. The “If…then” statements. They’re everywhere.

  • “If I had a quarter for every time…then I’d be rich”
  • “If you don’t clean you’re room [then] you’ll be sorry!”
  • “If this is what you’re saying, then we’ve got a problem.”
  • “If you do ____, then _____ will happen.”

The latter is the most diverse and weighted. In youth service last Sunday Jake, the youth pastor, talked about “If/Then” statement a bit. He was taking us through the text where Jesus was tempted in the desert. Satan was throwing every “If/Then” statement he could think of, in hopes that one would work. “If you are the Son of God, [then] tell this stone to become bread.” (Luke 4:3) “…If you fall down and worship me” (then “all these things I will give You”) (Matt 4:9)

These kinds of statements don’t stop here though.  I wish they did.
We do it too.

  • “God if you just get me this job, then I promise I’ll tithe more.”
  • “God if you could just stop this headache (or insert other pain) that I’m having, then I’ll go to church every Sunday.”
  • “God if you heal this person who I love, then I’ll really believe in You.”
  • “God – if you could please just help me pay my bills…if you could change the way my life is going…if you could let some doors open up at last — then I’ll stop worrying and trust You more. I’ll be able to proclaim Your goodness, if you do these things. Because I’ll feel them in my life. I could better serve You if you help me out just a little bit – to be stable.”

Yeah….there’s more. But *sigh*, don’t we say so many things like this? (Notice which one I’m particularly throwing in God’s face?) It’s what we feel. What we think. Sounds an awful lot like the first user of those words – and I don’t know about you, but I really do not want to sound like the author of Evil in any way.

This post could go on for an exponential amount of time. There is so much to unpack here. In addition to doing a 1 Timothy study with some wonderful people, I’m going through a study on Abraham. It’s about Trusting God’s Promises. I was getting back into this just now, while I sit here at Barnes and Noble, and I was convicted of this train of thought. John MacArthur says “God did not outline His entire plan for Abram right from the beginning. Instead, He told Abram what the final outcome would be….and then told him what the next step would require.” My first thought? “Well, ok God. I’m not asking for every step either. But it would be nice to know if the final outcome of Your use and direction for me could be known! Give me something to go on here? Something to see and walk towards, knowing relief is coming? That it all works out?” <– How's that for a confession? I've got more, but I will not be sharing those. God's heard them and I haven't been struck by lightening yet – but I wouldn't blame Him.
How ungrateful, selfish and immature is that? (Again, you’ve only heard a tiny part of the whining God has had to listen to.) I think that’s why the if/then statements immediately came to mind after those thoughts entered my head. Because I know better. I am envious of how Abram was directed. But God used that layout in Abram’s life. It could/will be different for others. He didn’t promise His children would know exactly how He would choose to use them or develop them through life. I’m reading one right now, out of hundreds of examples of how God moves in the lives of His people. And there are still more examples as I look around me at the people I love in my life. My family and friends – God moves in their lives. I can see it. And it’s all in such creatively different ways. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Comparison is a nasty sin. A vile, festering sickness (which I personally believe to be the root of the original sin).

I’m not in a stable job right now. I don’t have a savings account to speak of (I honestly never have). I hold my breath each month at how everything gets paid (yet it always does, by God’s grace). I look around, and yes I know others are struggling, but I see myself at the bottom of a long barrel here, and it’s frustrating. “I’m not where ____ is at, I’m not successful like ______, I’m don’t have all these ideas to make money like _____, I don’t have _____’s gifts or ______’s appeal….blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine. I mean — seriously!!! Such crap. These aren’t the thoughts of an obediently trusting child. These are not the feelings of a daughter of the King. A daughter of a King knows she is blessed. She sees the kingdom set before her, knowing she holds a portion of it, that it is part of her inheritance. She doesn’t see rays of sunshine and proclaim “it’s nighttime!”

Here’s another use of if/then:

  • “If I were better, then I’d be worthy.”
  • “If I could trust more, then I’d be qualified in the blessings given to me.”
  • “If I don’t speak so much, then (when I do) what I say will be more valued.”
  • “If I could just be perfect, then I’d really be worth the sacrifice.”

“…it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
“For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 10-6)
“A thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).  (John 10:10, AMP)

I know the Truth. But believing it is so much harder. “The bad stuff is easier to believe.” That’s so true, and twistingly so.

But let me encourage you by having voiced some of my own embarrassing doubt. God will take it. I’ve given it oxygen, let the wound breathe, so it can heal. He does not walk away nor give up the fight. “In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” (Nehemiah 4:20)

So here I am – an already conquered city, yet is continually under siege by the Enemy. I feel the pains of war, but I know my Warrior is ever-present in times of trouble. I know that my fortress is strong. “I will not be shaken.” So I guess I am like Abram. He was told the end result. I too know the end of the fight. My Salvation comes from Him. Maybe I can trust with the faith of Abraham, not needing the next step shown to me until the proper time. Knowing that I will come out of the fire – unharmed and refined.

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