In my Fathers house are many mansions, If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? John 14:2
Webster states that the word if is conditional, one that is predicated on a supposition or a qualification. Only two letters long, it is singularly one of the most important tiny words in our vocabulary. It is also one of the most potentially powerful and dangerous in the English language today. On it hinges happiness, sorrow, regret and loss. It is filled with endless possibilities that can even change an eternity.
When we were children, our mothers would say, If you are good, I will give you a treat when we get home, or in school our teachers might tell us If you will complete this assignment, I will add extra points to your grade. The main staple word of commercials constantly toot the If word all the time telling us if we use their products we can expect amazing results. It is also a standard for doctors and dentists. If we take our prescriptions, if we brush our teeth we will be better for it. It is a contingency word and on the negative side can be very unpleasant. We might be told if we do not pay our bills we will have to pay a penalty, if we are not nice to friends or family we will face their displeasure, or if we do not work we will have no money and will find ourselves without food or shelter. And so this mighty IF follows us wherever we go in our secular lives as well as our spiritual lives.
If we can step away from the sidelines of doubt and passiveness and take our place on the frontline of Gods steady fight against sin and iniquity, we can and will gain eternal life. For if I declare that I belong to God then I am only passing through here. If I expect to share in Gods kingdom, I must be willing to share in His suffering on this earth. If I can stay the course I will win the battle against sin and transgression. If I can hold out against the temptations of this world, I will live in Gods house forever. If only I can hold on just a little while longer my reward will be great in heaven. If I belong to God, I must do His work here while I am on this trip to my eternal home. If I truly believe, I can change my situation. If I do as Jesus taught, I will get my reward in heaven.
If we are really serious about following the ways of the Lord we will only see His way. The world with all its empty promises and attractions will become dead to us as Christians. Satans flashy spectaculars will become like the discarded garbage littering city streets. Temptations will no longer have the power to take us away from where our faith leads us.
Sometimes we get a little tired on this journey called life with all its toils and trials and we want to rest a little while and enjoy the fruits of this earth. We just want to relax and enjoy ourselves a little and let go. We want to forget the problems and the perils of life blatantly looking us in the face every minute from early sundown to dark nightfall and even through the night. We feel if we can tarry just a little bit and see alternatives in our lives we think we will still have time to catch the next train heading for Heaven with that little taste of what earth had to offer stored away in our memory banks. If we could just get those notions over with, dealt with once and for all, we think we will be strong enough to get back on board. But sometimes we get so comfortable we forget that God expects us to go forward in faith without yearning for the things sin offers. We get confused about where we should be, where we should be going. We linger in the limbo of earthly temptation, forgetting to keep moving to where God is leading us. Sometimes we become so comfortable at the table of earthly delights that we are reluctant to push ourselves up from that table piled high with easy sin and move on for Christ. We linger so long in our own agendas that we forget about the agenda God has written those many years before for us. We squander time on make believe; time that God has not promised to keep giving us. But if we can raise ourselves up from that table of complacency and let our Christian faith carry us forth on our Christian mission, God will take that walk with us. He will patiently point out along the way the wages of sin and show us the signposts leading to the heavenly kingdom. He will tell us not long, now. Well be home soon. Just a little while longer. Don't be afraid. Im right here with you all the way home. He will show us how Satan is deceiving us into thinking we have plenty of time to catch up with our Christianity. He will put a protective arm around us as Satan tries to prod us in his direction. Just try it, Satan calls out, pointing the way to something we always thought we wanted. You have plenty of time to repent is the reasoning he uses with us. And then he laughs out gleefully if a Christian falls for his tired old line.
Sometimes its hard; we all know how hard it is to take that Christian walk. Each day brings fresh and innovative ways to steal us away from the grace of God. Satan is waiting at every turn with all those beautifully wrapped temptations. He too, knows what we desire as human beings, and he makes certain to offer those things that we want in the guise of comradeship. If we fall into his trap we will find out later he has led us to a deep pit that is so steep we will find it hard to extricate ourselves.
We are all standing on the precipice between heaven and hell, and that little if word becomes a reminder of how we will spend eternity. That little word might become if I had only followed through with my faith or it might be a confident If I stay the course and run the race for Christ, all will be well with my soul. This is the time to find out if we are living our lives the way Jesus wishes it, knowing Gods grace is sufficient to carry us through our periods of trouble and distress. Whatever we need, whether it is hope, peace, solace or comfort, His grace is there.
If there is any good that we ought to do, we ought to do it today. If there is any kindness that we can show, we ought to show it now. If we encounter a lost soul, gently give an invitation to them to come along on this trip to Gods house. If there is any help we can give to others, we ought to give it now, for life is short and we do not know when we will called to our heavenly home. We dont want to say someday if only I had accepted Jesus in my heart as my Savior and obeyed His teachings. We dont want to hear Him say Its too late, your time is up.
Dont be guilty of using the if word if it concerns your faith. Dont let it lead you to eternal damnation. Dont let If only I had listened, if only I had be your litany for eternity. The saddest thing that can happen to us is to remember forever and ever the words If only I would have, then He would have welcomed me home.
If Jesus is with me, if Jesus is with you, we can go anywhere!
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