Monday, May 30, 2011

If Only

Friends in Faith:

Is your faith, your marriage, your family life, or your time tested by the “if only’s?”

If only… I had tried harder or not given up so quickly. If only… I had said this or not said that. If only…. I had one more day or one more hour to do something differently.

Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it….
“... So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits. Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, or when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him. No one experiencing temptation should say, "I am being tempted by God"; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one. Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. … and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does…. “ James 1

How many times do we have to live with the regrets of an “if only” because we gave up too soon?

Do we give up because we lost confidence or felt like there was no hope? Do we give up because we don’t feel like we can take the pain any longer? Do we feel like we are reliving “ground hogs” day and we don’t want to do it one more time?

What if God would have given up after he created the sun and the moon? What if God would have given up after he created Adam? What if God would have given up when Adam and Eve sinned? What if God had given up before He sent Jesus to us? What if God had given up before He sent us His Spirit to guide us? What if there were no apostles to spread the Gospels?

What if parents quit telling their young children “no?” What if a home builder couldn’t “see” past the framework? What if no one “talked” to their family? What if no one ever served another person, a waitress, a beautician, a housekeeper, or a cook? What if no one ever said “please” or “thank you?”

Sometimes I am tempted to give up on a goal because I feel as if everything is working against me.

If only…I had stayed on my diet and not given in to that one little “brownie” put before me.

Sometimes I am tempted to quit because there just isn’t enough time, so I put off what is truly important because of more urgent demands.

If only… I had spent time with family or friends instead of searching the internet or reading “junk mail/email.”

Sometimes I am tempted to give up on societal problems because they are so large I don’t know how I could possibly improve the situation or help solve the problem.

If only…I were more influenced by the example of the saints, like Mother Theresa who just kept moving forward for God’s greater goals and less influenced by “the Jones.”

Sometimes I am tempted to give up because I don’t see a “personal” reward or the person I am working with doesn’t show any gratitude for the time commitment I have made to help them.

If only…I would remember that God rewards me with His grace even when I forget to say “thank you” for His blessings.

Heavenly Father, Your example of perseverance is perfect guidance and strength. Help me to focus on goals that are made for Your glory—my family, my health, Your time, and Your grace. Thank you for blessing me with this day, this hour to spend in Your presence. Help me not to give up too soon, but to move forward in Your path, towards Your light, guided by Your truth. Show me the way by guarding me from the evil that tempts me to give up so that I don’t have to live with the regrets of the “if only’s.” Amen.

What is your “if only?” Is God Your strength? Will you persevere in seeking and finding His truth, living his commandments and serving others as he has called us to do?

Make today a day that you set aside one “if only!”

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