“What If” to “What Is”

Renew your mind by focusing on the “what is” of the Word, not the “what ifs” of worry.

 I was watching one of my favorite television dramas a few weeks ago and the main characters, to get their minds off some potentially bad news, played a game called “It Could Be Worse.” Each person would then name a worse case scenario, and the other person tried to top that worse case. For example, “You could be trapped in a flooding cave.” The other person would retort “You could be trapped in a flooding cave with piranhas eating your toes.”

Isn’t that so like how women view life. Our children struggle with a class and we immediately blame ourselves and panic that they’ll never get into college and they’ll never get a job and they’ll end up living in a van down by the river and it’ll be all our fault. We can go from content to catastrophic in less than 60 seconds. We play the “what ifs” like a roulette game. What if she fails the class? What if he loses his job? What if my child can’t overcome his learning disability? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I blow it as a parent? What if I take a risk to seek a new friendship and get rejected? What if? What if? What if?

CNT8FS9WEAAP2paI have played that game far too many times. The fear of failure and rejection threatened to paralyze me. Then a wise counselor taught me a skill that changed my life. He gave me little pink slips of paper that had two words on them, “reject” and “replace.” I was to write down whatever lie the enemy was using to taunt me and replace that lie with a scripture that spoke truth into that lie. I was replacing the “what if’s” of life with the “what is” of the scripture. I was walking through Paul’s exhortation, “forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

This scripture reminded me of three things:

1)      My past is under the blood of Christ. I am forgiven and made new. I don’t need to dwell on guilt or shame or feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. In Christ, those things no longer define who I am nor dictate who I will become.

2)      I need to be intentional in pursuing Christ. Straining is defined as forcing to make a strenuous or unusually great effort. If I am straining toward what is ahead, and the goal is Christ, then I will need to discipline myself to seek after Him, with all I’ve got, every day.

3)      I need to always, always, keep the call of Christ at the forefront of my mind. Keeping my eyes fixed on things of the kingdom and not on things of earth is vital in learning to reject the lies of the enemy.

I spent years walking, trudging, crawling, little by little through the discipline of rejecting and replacing.  I was learning to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Like Daniel Larusso learned karate by painting fences and waxing cars, I was learning day by day, step by step, how to defeat the enemy of my soul. And I had one far better than Mr. Miyagi as my guide, I had the Holy Spirit deepening my understanding of the truth.

After years of little pink slips of paper floating around my Bible, my purse, my car, my desk at work, one day I realized I was beginning to reject and replace without even consciously thinking about it. After years of constantly being transformed by the renewing of my mind, I was noticing a difference. I stood firm on the truth. I was applying what I was learning to every aspect of my life. I was seeing myself more like God saw me. I was confident, not in myself, but in the Creator God who loves me, redeems me, is making me new, and delights in me. One day I woke up and realized the despair I typically felt every day was being replaced with delight in the Father and basking in that delight helped me love deeper, and discover peace and joy and hope like I’d never had before.

So if you’re spending all your time focusing on the “what if’s” I want to encourage you to get out of that dark, vicious cycle of worry and anxiety and frustration and anger. I want you to find your way to standing firm on “what is.”

Consider starting with these verses:

Reject:

God doesn’t love me. He doesn’t care about me.

Replace:

“But now, this is what the Lord says,–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel; Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.” Isaiah 43:1-4

 

Reject:

God can’t be trusted—especially with my “what ifs.”

Replace:

“He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112: 7

 

Reject:

God doesn’t hear me. He doesn’t care if I’m hurting.

Replace:

“He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:15-16

 

Now start your own list and replace those “what ifs” with the “what is” of the Word of God. You can even use little pink cards if you like. 😊

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The Journey: Detours

A persons’ steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way? Proverbs 20:24

auto-automobile-automotive-244822A few years back, when GPS was still in its infancy and definitely before cars had them built-in, we took a long family trip to upstate New York. Quite a ways from dear ole Birmingham, Alabama. Because we’d be traveling so far and through areas unfamiliar to us, we purchased a GPS for our vehicle.

The morning of the trip, we plugged in our destination with great excitement over both  the trip and the new gadget. We settled in for the long drive and enjoyed the novelty of this gadget telling us to take a left or a right on roads here in town that were quite familiar to us. The kids loved the digitalized female voice of this new technology, and they especially enjoyed hearing her peculiar way of pronouncing words familiar to them.  “Field-stone” road instead of Fieldstown. “At-Tall-a” for Attalla, Alabama. We giggled at the “Make a U-turn” and “Recalculating” comments “she” made if we happened to take a familiar road other than the one the program directed us to take. And it was a good diversion seeing our little arrow progressing on the map; it cut out a lot of the “Are we there yet?” questions.

We managed well with our new tour guide through Tennessee and Kentucky, roads with which we were semi-familiar. But somewhere past the state line of Maryland or through Pennsylvania or New York, things got interesting. We were now in totally foreign territory, relying solely on our newly purchased “friend” for directions.

“In one mile take exit #____.”

What? We had believed we would be on Interstate the whole way until within an hour or so of our destination. After a quick, nervous discussion between mom & dad, we road-closed-2698182_1280hesitantly got off the interstate as directed. We immediately encountered traffic, wove our way on a curvy 2-lane road, got delayed by local road repairs, and an hour or so later, found ourselves getting back on the interstate less than 20 miles from where we’d gotten off! We never knew if the path we took had been the best or not, never determined if there had been a wreck or a road closure, or nothing at all that caused our grand detour. We simply trusted the “expert,” the machine, and as my husband likes to say, “It is what it is.”

But now we were back on track! We’d just be an hour or so later than we’d expected. Excitement was mounting, new scenery, new adventures, and we were almost there. Soon we reached our exit and knew we were within an hour of our “home” for the week.

And then… “Recalculating.” What? Again? We had specific directions sent from the place we were staying, but our “expert” was again challenging the path we were taking. This time we decided to go with the printed directions provided by a human rather than trusting the computer voice. This provided a fun ending for the journey as we watched our car icon on the digital map travel through a field and heard the voice continuously telling us to “Return to the road.” We actually were traveling on a real road, it just hadn’t been loaded into the map’s memory. We needed a system update.

We reached our cabin on the Ausable River before dark and had a glorious, restful week of vacation. We’ll never forget the trip. But what does that story have in it for you?

Spiritual Lessons From the Detour:

God has a good plan for our lives. If we trust that He loves us and will see us through, then we don’t have to fear any detour we take. He is on the detour with us. And might I add, He is much more reliable than my electronic tour guide. So relax! Enjoy the journey!

Don’t get caught up in “what ifs” and “if onlys.” Our trip could have been ruined by the seemingly useless, time-wasting detour, but we will never know how much worse it could have been if we had stayed on the interstate. And so it is with life. We must trust that God allows even the tough stuff in our lives for a reason. We tend to react to inconvenience or negative occurrences with a whiny, pessimistic attitude. The thing is we will never know what we were protected from, prepared for, or relieved of by that detour happening at that inconvenient time. So just let it go!

Trust God’s written directions for life – His Word. “Experts” in this world will try to tell us where they think we should be going. Society at large will proclaim “truths” they have determined we all need to accept. Well meaning friends will question our God-given directives because they don’t understand. But as with my GPS friend’s directions, if these words of advice go against the written directions of The One who really knows (The Bible), we need to ignore them and keep following our Heavenly Father on the new road He has made for us, even when non-Christian logic sees us as wandering in a field.

Follow God’s guidance in familiar territory as well as unfamiliar. We followed closely the words of our GPS on those unfamiliar roads, but often ignored it and chose the street we wanted on paths we regularly traveled. The same happens in our Christian walk. We know our desperate need for God in the unfamiliar, scary times, so we follow Him closely. But in the mundane day-to-day life we sometimes cease to walk in faith and obedience. Our attitude is like, “I got this God. Don’t need you right now. I’ll get back to you and your word when the next crisis hits.”

God’s Detours are worthwhile. While they may include hurdles to overcome, pitfalls to avoid, or tension in our chest as we face the unknown, detours are worth it. We meet new people, see new and exciting things, learn to trust our Creator, grow our faith muscle, and come away from the experience with a wealth of new wisdom we wouldn’t have gotten were it not for taking that detour.

Make a U-turn when necessary. Sometimes we need to take a hard look at the direction we’re heading in life, do a little recalculating, and make a U-turn. That’s a spiritual principle. It’s called repentance.

Remember… You are not alone on this journey. Dont worry. Trust His word. Follow Him daily. Embrace the detours. Let’s trust the real GPS – God’s Positioning System – to get us to where He wants us to be, through all the detours of life. Enjoy the journey!

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

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