There are certain words that impact our lives through the years and certain events make some words more powerful to us than others. The word IF is a huge word in my life and it breaks down into two different areas. Looking ahead and looking back. Jesus had some great words of truth for a group of people about who He was and what God was doing through Him. In the midst of hearing His words, a great many of those people believed. In John 8:31-32 Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” The moment they heard Him declare that He was the Word of God and the truth for their lives, they were confronted with a big IF. IF I believe all this then my world will be changed forever. My whole structure as a thinking person will be disrupted and my present way of thinking will be drastically changed. Today we are known as people of faith. People who believe the Bible is true, that Jesus died, was buried, and then resurrected. People who hold to that faith to the point of allowing Him to redirect our thinking from a worldly perspective to a Godly perspective. The IF Jesus spoke about is the same if we have to deal with today. If we truly believe then He is our source of EVERYTHING when it comes to thinking. We no longer hold on to a weak worldly way of thinking, IF we truly know Him.
The other side of the IF word is looking back. We see things in the past and then notice that IF we had done or said something different than we did, then our present would have been much different. Good or bad. Sometimes it is more like “if only!” One looking back. One looking ahead. This story illustrates how we can lose focus when we pray and sometimes lose hope in the midst of one disappointment after another. IF becomes a huge word in this story as well.
Ruby Hamilton, a businesswoman in her fifties, was stunned at the loss of her husband of 32 years in a car accident. Her anger and disappointment went deeper than a more typical expression of grief though. She had become a follower of Christ in her late twenties, but her husband didn’t share her newfound interest in spiritual things. Nonetheless, she had set about praying for him feverishly and unceasingly that he would come to know the Lord. And one day when she was praying, she felt a wave of peace wash over her, and that still small voice assuring her that her husband would be okay. She eagerly awaited the day when her husband surrender his life to Jesus. And now this.
What do you do when faith doesn’t make sense? When God doesn’t seem to be answering or opening doors or being found? Ruby Hamilton stopped living for God.
Roger Simmons was hitchhiking his way home. He would never forget the date – May 7th. His heavy suitcase was making him tired and he was anxious to take off that army uniform once and for all. Flashing the thumb to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped.
The passenger door swung open. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. “Going home for keeps?”
“Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.”
“Not quite that far – do you live in Chicago?”
“I have a business there, the driver said. My name is Hamilton.”
They chatted for a while, and then Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to share his faith with this fiftyish, apparently successful business man. But he kept putting it off, till he realized that he was now just 30 minutes from his home. It was now or never.
“Mr. Hamilton, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” Then he simply told Mr. Hamilton about the plan of salvation and ultimately asked him if he would like to receive Jesus as his savior and Lord.
The Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger expected that he was about to get thrown out of the car. Instead, the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”
Five years went by. Roger married, had a couple of kids and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a trip to Chicago he found a small white business card that had been given to him by Hamilton five years previous. In Chicago, he looked up Hamilton enterprises. The receptionist told him that it was impossible to see Mr. Hamilton, but he could see Mrs. Hamilton. A little confused, he was ushered into a beautiful office where he found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties.
She extended her hand “You knew my husband?”
Roger told her about how Hamilton had picked him up while he was hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me what day that was?”
“Sure it was May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.”
“Anything special about that day,” she asked.
He hesitated, not knowing if he should mention how he shared the message of Jesus with her husband. “Mrs. Hamilton, I explained the gospel to your husband that day. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.”
Explosive sobs shook her body. Finally getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.”
“Where is your husband, Ruby?”
“He’s dead. He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see, I thought God had not kept his promise. I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought God had not kept his word!”
Perhaps you have lost faith and have stopped following God. IF that is the case, then here is something that might help. First of all, God is in control and His Word is pure truth and when all else fails, you can relay on it. Secondly, His truth will help keep you close to His will for you and keep you in tune to what He is doing. That truth will help you continue to trust and not give up when things don’t look so good. Lastly, God’s plan is a great, perfect plan and IF you decide to connect to it, then you will not look back with IF’s that mean nothing. You will only look ahead and see what God has out there for you. The only looking back will be when you see how God has been faithful in all things and that will energize your faith. There are going to be some big IF’s in our lives. Just make sure they are all coming from the right perspective as a person of faith..
The Pilgrimage continues…..