Contemplating possibilities can take us to many places. What happens when you imagine something wonderful or dwell on a worst case scenario? Pondering “what if” can frame our experience of what will be.
In Exodus 3 and 4, we see a man bombarded by “what ifs.” His name is Moses. Whether or not you know his story, you may be well-acquainted with his dilemma. Here are a few of the juicy details.
Through the twist and turns of God’s providence Moses stands in front of a burning bush that is not consumed. As Moses heard God call him to be His messenger, Moses also heard “what if…?”
What if I’m not the right choice?(3:11)
What if they don’t believe me?(4:1)
What if I fail? (4:10)
What if I don’t want to go? (4:13)
This prophet gets a lot of grief for his initial response to a great call. But I think Moses did the best thing any fearful or doubtful person can do – he brought every fear and question before God. His speculations turned into prayers.
I sympathize with Moses. An instantaneous “yes” to a weighty invitation rarely happens. Whenever we sense God calling us to a task or talk it often goes beyond our ability, our understanding, and sometimes beyond what we desire. At least it does for me.
I try not to ask “what if?” I try to focus on the fact that God knows what will be. As a result, I’m learning to ask a different kind of “what if…?” What if I am confident of God’s faithfulness? What if I believe every promise in Scripture is true? What if I don’t know a specific outcome, but I choose to focus on what I do know about my Savior?
These speculations turn into declarations. When I am CONFIDENT of God’s faithfulness, I am CONTENT in my current season, COMPASSIONATE towards others, and I CELEBRATE who He created me to be! I’ve seen the opposite effect. Lacking confidence in the faithfulness of God leads to discontentment. It focuses me on the faults of others or the possibility that I may fail. None of these prospects are encouraging.
Eventually, Moses used a different approach. In obedience to God, he grabbed his staff and his brother and went to Egypt. As he demanded the Israelites’ freedom, gradually Moses gained liberty too. However, the Egyptian king’s heart was hardened and his grip tightened on his captives. But God sent ten plagues to take out some of his toughness.
Somewhere between plague #1 and #10, a holy boldness grew inside of Moses. Even after the Israelites were freed, the Egyptian king had another change of heart. Eventually, a stand-off occurred at the shore of the Red Sea. But this time, Moses was poised by the many “what ifs” he’d seen turn into “wow God!” As he raised his staff to part the Red Sea’s waters Moses was prepared to watch God work.
Is there a loved one you’re concerned about…what if?
Is there a problem you’re trying to solve…what if?
Is there some assignment overwhelming you…what if?
Wherever your answer takes you here’s some good news: if your answer echoes fear take it to God; if it evokes faith watch Him work! “What if” can become a taunt of defeat or a truth declaration in our souls. But rest assured God intimately knows us and he knows our “what if” response. When we trust Him His peace calms our minds and we receive hope for the heart and joy to the soul.
“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” – James 4:14-15 NLT