I have been thinking about this little word for a while now. Such a small word with such huge possibilities! The Britannica dictionary tells me that IF means something that is not certain –something that could either happen or not happen.
The truth is, this little word, if used too often in our formative years, creeps into our child’s psyche, hiding in the branches of our tree of life like so many undisciplined monkeys, making us second-guess everything we do. It can take a lifetime to take those monkeys captive! If we’re not careful, we can waste a lot of energy looking in the rearview mirror while trying to travel forward into the plans Jeremiah says God has in mind for us, obsessing about what we should have, could have or would have done, “if only…” Sadly, in my pastoral experience, if this is not dealt with, defeat and depression become nagging travel companions.
But IF in the mouth of the Lord is something totally different. It becomes a portal into relationship with God and therefore, a certainty of blessings we never dreamed of. I don’t have the space here to examine every IF in the Word, but these are particular favorites of mine: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, then I will hear from heaven and heal their land…If with all your heart you truly seek me, you will surely find me…If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed… If you love me, keep my commands …” The Bible principle is this – IF we “do” then God ”will.”
Trust is what changes the uncertainty of the dictionary definition into the certainty that what He says, He does – always –never mind what it looks like to me. This is only possible because we have become personal in our relationship. We hide nothing from Him – I mean NOTHING– and He reveals Himself in the most surprising ways, even when our faith is weak. With the psalmist we can say:
“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (Psalm 139:7-8)
This IF is not the wistful fatalism of “What will be will be.” Instead it is a Spirit-fueled Rocket Ship that launches us into “the peace that passes all understanding” and the hope-filled life of a personal relationship with the Lord of heaven Himself!
I really love the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 14:8:
“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
Blessed be the Name of the Lord – forever!