by Mick Schatz
ROSCOMMON, MI – Have you ever been stuck in the quicksand of ‘what if?” The more you ponder “what if” your mind seems to travel further down the road of endless and sometimes even bizarre possibilities.
You feel paralyzed, unable to move and every thought seems to pull you down deeper and deeper until you are drowning in fear. This is, of course, the negative side of “what if” and if we are honest, most of us are usually quick to run to the scary side of “what if” versus the optimistic perspective. It’s how we are wired.
It’s a good reaction when it gives us pause and caution, but not so good when it paralyzes us in fear. It’s a good question when it keeps us safe and stops us from making a regrettable decision. However, it can be very toxic to our spiritual life when it keeps us from obeying God.
Personally, I have at times let “what if” keep me from obeying God and experiencing His grace, presence, and power in my life. “What if” has kept me from trusting the prompting of the Holy Spirit to pray for someone, share the gospel, give sacrificially, forgive, love, stand-up and speak out - the list could go on.
Like Moses, reacting to instruction from God through the burning bush, I highlight all the reasons I’m not good enough, and all the reasons I’ll fail and look stupid. You see, pride is the real motive behind most of our “what if” dilemmas’. It’s me/you looking at the situation and how it will affect me/you.
The goal is to stop defaulting to “what if” and start proclaiming “even if”. “Even if” means looking at God and how He will affect the situation.
Just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego responding to King Nebuchadnezzar II in Daniel 3:16-18 (NASB):
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we are not in need of an answer to give you concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods nor worship the golden statue that you have set up.”
What an amazing example of faith, trust and worship! That’s the reality in which God is calling us to live.
I like how Paul says it in Philippians 1:21 (ESV): "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus gave us the ultimate example of “even if” when He was praying to His Father in Matthew 26:39, “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
Being able to say “even if” when our pride and ego is on the line can be difficult, but in surrender we experience God’s abundant grace and power to overcome our fear and follow Him along the path He is leading.
“Even if” places our focus directly on the source of our strength and refuge and leaves the outcome in His hands - there are no better hands. What if we said “even if?”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mick Schatz serves on the staff of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. He is the State Director of Spiritual Enrichment and Retreats and lives at Bambi Lake.