hook, line, and sinker a LONG time ago. Life has dimmed the illusion, but subconsciously I still think ---IF ONLY I-----
You know of what I speak---those unwritten but well understood rules of cause and effect---
If only I--
study hard--I will do well in school and have a good job when I graduate
eat right and exercise daily--I will live a long and healthy life
obey the rules of the road--I will drive accident free
avoid over exposure to the sun--I will never wrinkle or have skin cancer
stay on my side of the fence--the neighbor will stay on his
be kind--I will be well thought of
work hard--I will be successful in my career
am honest with others--they will be honest with me
am a good wife--I will have a long and happy marriage
am a good mother--my children will respect and love me
am a good friend--I will have many friends
treat all with respect--they will treat me with respect
I could go on and on and then there are those IF ONLY'S of a spiritual nature-
If only I---
go to church at least twice weekly-
read my Bible daily-
sing in the church choir-
teach Sunday School and Vacation Bible School-
give my tithe-
support all local, national and international missionaries-
cook for the sick and those who are bereaved-
pray at all meals and to begin and end my day-
God will richly bless my life and I will live in plenty surrounded by love and admiration.
W R O N G
I found I could NOT do it-there were too many rules--too little time--and not enough of me to keep all the balls in the air. I was a dismal failure at keeping all the If Only's--and that must be the reason My Happily Ever After dissolved into What The Heck Happened! Truly--all things considered--I did a pretty good job of doing it all---and still--the deck of cards all came crashing down upon me because someone was always adding another ball and soon there were too many balls to keep it all going.
My guess is the "If Only's" become ingrained at an early age---with the attempt of our parents to civilize us and keep us on the straight and narrow. Why certainly--this is all for our own good--in a desire to guarantee a long and successful life. Somehow along the way, we begin to look around and become convinced if we only follow the rules---happiness is the guaranteed result.
AND THEN LIFE HAPPENS--
What happens when we follow all the rules---dot all the i's and cross all the t's--never waver--keep our nose to the grind stone and our feet on the path---AND YET---things go wrong---horribly wrong---tragically wrong---THEN WHAT??? Our illusion of success from rule following becomes a delusional nightmare of WHAT HAPPENED?
THEN---My Friends---THEN---I learned who God is---was---and always has been. Then I learned it was not about following the 12 step program to a successful life---but a life long pursuit of a relationship with Him. There is not one thing wrong with any of the things I listed--but when the rule following became my focus---disaster was sure to follow. There are no guarantees in life and life can sometimes be a stinky--slimy--ugly mess.
A N D THEN
I finally turned to Jesus---the one who came that we might be free from the rules---the one who loves us in spite of our inability to follow the rules---the one who forgives our every failure to obey all the rules---
and then the If Only turns into W H A T I F--
What if--we trust Him---
we have faith in Him
we love Him
we turn to Him
we cry out for Him
we look to Him and Him only--
THEN AND ONLY THEN
will we understand joy and the true abundant life.
We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they sayis perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.