‘If only’ is a strange set of words. In my own observation, it can create a whole ton of frustration and despair, where none was intended. For example, Lot, a man of faith, makes it out alive with his two (unfortunately impure) daughters. His wife looked behind, and became a ‘pillar of salt.’
We all know the story. What we don’t really know is what went on in Lot’s mind after that point. Did he say to himself, ‘If only my wife had not turned her head and looked back!’? Yes, those may well have been Lot’s thoughts, for a short while after the initial event, but for him to have been able to ‘continue on’ in his holy walk of faith before God, he would have had to ‘leave that behind him.’
The words ‘if only’ can create a whole pile of problems. Lot would have found that out very soon, as a ‘new and corrupt’ spirit would have quickly begun to overtake him, as he wallowed in his sorrows over his lost wife. I’m sure Lot — if he did do that — didn’t continue that for long! I’m sure that he quickly ‘shaped up.’
Or, Lot’s thoughts may have been to the effect, ‘If only I had been a better husband, and had trained my wife how to hear and obey God’s voice — taken her to more seminars (!) or read more books on the matter! But that, too, is just the same type of thinking, being played out in a slightly different manner. Either way you spell it, the words, ‘If only’ in this context, can, and will, get both you and I into a whole pile of problems.
The words ‘if only’ used in this context will only tend to draw us back into the past instead of helping us to focus on what to do in the present in light of the future. This, then, is the utter danger of entering into this type of thinking. Take heed! It is a snare and a deception!
As the saying goes, ‘The past is history, the future is a mystery, and today is a gift — that is why they call it ‘the present.”
If you have gone through some unfortunate incident in your life, you are not alone! Think of Lot. Think of the mother of Jesus, who had to watch him die on the cross! But no, a person filled with the Spirit of God ought to say, ‘Lord, despite the past, I will trust you in the present, yes, in light of the fact that I have a glorious future in you!’
God bless you today, as you focus on those things that are pleasing and acceptable in God’s sight, those things that make for a ‘faith-filled day.’
Let’s learn from the apostle Paul on these things, shall we not? For this is what he intructed us to do, under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit:
‘Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:13b-14)
‘Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’ (Philippians 4:8)