Monday, October 5, 2009

"If Only..." By Kelli Zaniel

A few weeks ago, I went to visit a girlfriend of mine whose home looks like it was showcased in Pottery Barn meets HGTV magazine. After our visit, I stepped through her beautifully hand carved door, down past the charming multi-colored flowers that ruffled alongside the freshly cut grass, back to the car thinking of new ways I could recreate my home to look more like hers. My home improvement dreams came to a screeching halt as I remembered the invasion of the wild dandelions peaking up from in between the cracks of my driveway, paint chipping off those too hard to reach spots on the front of the house and shingles listed as “missing in action,” off the side of the roof. If only I could have the dream design team of ABC’s Extreme Make-Over: Home Edition stop by for a day, then I would be happy. I could feel myself disappearing into a little ole thing called the “if only,” trap.

If only… my flowers looked that nice;
If only… I had the Pottery Barn curtains;
If only… I didn’t have white dog hair plastered on brown walls;
If only… I could have carpet without red punch stains on it.

The “if only I had,” statements are limitless. They can defeat you at every turn. They can wedge in between you and your relationship with God. That statement knows no boundaries. If only I had… more money, a husband that was more romantic, children I could take in public places or feet that were bunion free (maybe that is just my issue). I don’t know what your “if only,” statements are, but I do know they will never completely fill you. They will never give you what you need. No possession or person can ever fill you the way God can. Lets take a quick look at some truths about God that carry me over my “if only,” hurdles.

… is the filler of my heart;
… is always ready to listen;
… never gives me second best;
… is the glue that pieces me back together when I fall apart;
… will always make me happy;
… will never leave me unsatisfied;
… will never go out of style.

AnyTHING or anyONE we use as a substitute for God is considered an idol or false god. Do you remember the story of Elijah, the people of Israel and the false god? It was a triumphant finish for Elijah but a complete flop for the people of Israel. God’s perfect will was to bring the people of Israel to their knees. He desired for them to repent, let go of their false god, pick up their cross and return to a love relationship with Him.

Elijah challenged the people of Israel to choose whom they would serve – the true God or their worshiped idol, Baal. The people prepared the bull and placed it on the alter. From morning and until noon, they shouted and cried out to Baal. “Oh Baal answer us!” Elijah taunted the people, “shout louder, maybe he is asleep and cannot hear you!" "Midday passed and the people continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention,” (1Kings 18:26-29).

This is a wake up call for us. What happened when the people worshipped and cried out to their false god? There was no response, no acknowledgement and no one paid attention. The people were left with nothing more than a bull on an alter and the harsh realization they had strayed from the only one true God. If we succumb to our “if only,” temptations, we will experience a similar response. No satisfaction. No fulfillment. No results.

When I think of my personal “if only statements,” I realize they brought me nothing but temporary satisfaction, a broken heart, a painful lesson and empty promises. They are all things or people that I can experience with my senses. I can touch them, see them and/or hear them. Isn’t it funny how those “things,” we can see and touch are constantly letting us down? The only One we can truly rely on is the One we can only experience through faith. He will always satisfy me and never let me down.

Next time you feel yourself being trapped in your “if only I had (blank) I would be happy,” statements, ask yourself these questions…

… will this truly fill me or provide temporary satisfaction?
… is this all about me?
… who will benefit from this?
… am I serving others?
… is God glorified?

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