If Only.

I have talked before about how I feel somewhat ill-prepared to be a mom.  I suppose all of us do.  Or maybe we feel ill-prepared for whatever comes our way in this life.  It would actually be easy for me to accuse someone else for not preparing me for what I need to know: my parents, pastors, teachers, etc.  But the truth is, that is going down a road that is dangerous (the blame game).  And as much as I feel I don't know, there are so many things that I DID learn while I was growing up. 

This week, Justin and I have had some interesting discussions about what it is that keeps us from doing what we feel we need to do, when we need to do it.  We have talked a lot about how we trade one "if only" for another...what do I mean?  For me, it's been a range from "if only I were thinner" or "if only I had a Master's Degree" and "if only I had more money."  I may achieve one thing I wanted for myself, only to find I've traded that 'if only' for another.  I'm not exactly sure what "it" is that I'm trying to accomplish either.  Happiness? Security? Joy?  We all know, deep down, that life is a journey and try as we may, we'll never know everything and we'll never be perfectly content.  But in the scripture, those of us who long to live by faith are urged over and over to be content in whatever place we find ourself.  In our society, we spend so much money and time on self-improvement and I wonder if we ever feel that we are "there."  What will we do when we arrive?  You could really ask this question with anything we choose to do with our time. 

How do you define success?  I think sometimes in my life, I see myself as unsuccessful at lots of things and that becomes my excuse not to try something new and perhaps scary.  For others I know, work keeps them from contentment.  Does this sound familiar? "If only I had a better job or a higher paying job, I could pay off more debt and have more freedom financially."  If you are a believer in Christ, it could even be that you've said "if only I made more money, then I would be able to give more money."  We have said that before. 

Justin and I are praying about some opportunities for ministry that would be easy to say "if only" before we act.  This week, he sent me an e-mail with a devotional from Family Life.  I think it's worth sharing here. 

If only we were this committed.

Full Steam Ahead
Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3

When young William Borden--heir to the Borden dairy fortune--graduated from high school more than 100 years ago, his father gave him three things for his graduation gift: enough money for a trip around the world, a servant to accompany him and a brand-new Bible. So at just 16 years of age, William traveled throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East, experiencing a mix of cultures and people.

But the combination of seeing human suffering while simultaneously acquainting himself with the Scriptures caused William's heart to be stirred with a calling from God. He committed his life to prepare for the mission field, and he wrote two words in the back of his Bible: "No reserve."

Returning home, he enrolled at Yale University, where his spiritual devotion and his ministry to the poor and destitute became well known among the students, faculty and community in New Haven. And though he was courted by both Wall Street and the family business upon graduation, he stayed firm in his desire to serve God overseas. During this time he wrote two additional words in the back of his Bible: "No retreat."

While traveling through Egypt on his way to a mission in China, William contracted a form of spinal meningitis. Within a month, he died. He was only 25. Weeks later, as his father was going through William's things, he came across the Bible he had given his son as a high-school graduation present. The list of short handwritten statements in the back now included a third: "No regrets."

No reserve. No retreat. No regrets. Those six words should challenge all of us to be radical followers of Christ. We should live purposefully in our marriages and families, investing ourselves wholeheartedly in the primary people God has given us to love and to lead. Always forward. Always faithful.

No going back.


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