I would guess that everyone, at one time or another, has thought to themself, “What if….?” What if I had known that was going to happen? What if I hadn’t said that? What if I had said that?
What if I had met my wife earlier? I can tell you, for myself, if I had met Donna when I was in my twenties neither one of us would have had any use for the other. She was different and I was very different, and I doubt she would have given me a second look.
The problem with thinking about what would have been different is that it represents a level of dissatisfaction with the way things are now. Just wondering what it would be like if you had taken that job or if you had met someone sooner doesn’t mean you are unhappy; however, if you really wish things had been different there is no way to deny you are unhappy with how things are now.
The question is: are you where you are because you listened to God’s plan for your life, or are you where you are because you rejected God’s plan for your life?
Personally, I didn’t care what God wanted for me until I was in my 40’s. Thinking about what would have been different if I had cared before then would drive me crazy…OK, you’re right. It would make me crazier than I am now.
If I was to allow myself to think about “if only I had…” I can go back over thousands of things I did that I would like to change. But then I remember something that stops me in my tracks- I like the way things are now.
“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” and “Be careful what you wish for because you just may get it“: two very wise warnings about what happens when you start to relive the past and wish that it had been different. The bottom line is that we, as humans, will make mistakes. When we do make a mistake we have two choices: we can dwell on it, or we can overcome it.
If I had known the Lord when I was a kid, my entire life would have been different. The experiences that have made me what I am today would not have happened: my friends, my wife, children, parents, everything- everything would not be what it is now. And there is no way I can be sure it would be better. It could have been much worse; in fact, I could be dead. If I had stayed in the Marine Corps I would have been in the Gulf War (both of them) and who knows who I would have married, if I ever married at all. If I had not left the jobs I did when I did, I might have been a block away from the World Trade Center when it collapsed, or maybe even in it.
The point is we need to accept that God is doing what He does- helping us to have the best life we can. We are the ones who screw it up, and we are the ones who make it better. Do you want to be happy? Then just accept that where you are today is where you should be, and there is nowhere else you could be. And more than anything else, do not allow yourself to regret what you have done (or not done) because regret is a tool of the enemy.
I looked at my Strong’s Concordance for how many times the word “regret” is used in the bible, and would you like to know how many times I found it?
Not once does the word “regret” show itself in the bible (well, at least, not according to Strong’s interpretation) so if no one anywhere in the entire Word of God has had any regrets for what has happened in their life, then neither should I. And neither should you.
Where we are now is where we have been led; yes, there have been times (I am sure) that God was directing us elsewhere and we went off on our own, but that only meant God had to create a detour. Maybe we would have done what He wanted earlier, but God will always have His way. Mordecai told Esther (Hadassah) that if she didn’t go before the king, salvation for the Jews would come from somewhere else, but perhaps she was where she was for such a time as this. We are all in that very same spot: maybe what we do or don’t do will be in God’s will, or out of it, but God’s will will succeed. If we believe we hear God’s call on our life and we try to run to Tarshish (as Jonah did), if God really wants us to do this thing He will make events happen that will bring us into alignment with His will. And if He doesn’t really want you or me to do whatever it is, He will choose someone else.
Sometimes I find it interesting to think, when reading about the people in the Bible, how many others would have been there if they had been more open to God’s calling? But, again, it is a useless endeavor to think about that because what really matters is what God wants from me. And what He wants from you.
So, don’t waste your emotional energy or bring yourself “down” by thinking, “What if…?” It is a waste of time, a waste of effort and a disrespect for God’s intercession in your life. God is in charge, and even though we are allowed to go where we want to go, God will always find a short cut back to the path He wants you to take, so long as you are willing to set your spiritual GPS to Him.