Opening our mailbox, I held my breath and prayed, Please God, not today. No bills today.
After months of unemployment, our bank account had dwindled to nothing. We’d survived by living on a shoestring while my husband worked a series of odd jobs — positions well below his qualifications. Recently, he’d faced a dozen refusals, and now our situation was dire. What if we lose our home? I thought. What if he can’t find a job? What if…?
My mind wandered to several years earlier when my husband ventured into business for himself. He traded the security of a dull but lucrative government job for the opportunity to do what he’d always wanted — build energy-efficient luxury homes. I supported him in his decision. We knew it was risky, but we had plenty of savings — or so we thought — and we knew he would be successful. And he was until the economy turned. Now, my mind bent backward. What if he hadn’t gone out on his own? What if we still had the safety net of his retirement? What if…?
What if…? Two words that throw you fearfully into the future or imprison you with regret. Two words that fit nowhere within the framework of faith. Two words that deny God’s sovereignty, goodness, and love.
In Exodus 3, when Moses encounters God in the burning bush, Moses asks the Lord, “What is [your] name?” The Lord replies,
“I AM who I AM.” Exodus 3:14 (NIV)
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “am” as “the first person singular present of be.” Present. Not future. Not past.
Theologically, we know God is not defined by time. He is eternal, with no beginning or end.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV), and He is “from everlasting to everlasting …” Psalm 90:2 (NIV).
And yet we, His children, are constrained by time. The enemy of our souls knows that and tries to use the burden of time against us as he tempts us to focus on a future filled with fear or a past ruined by regret. What if…?
In Hebrews 13:5, God promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (ESV)
When our minds drift ahead toward worry and fear or behind to shame or regret, we forget God’s eternal faithfulness. Satan wants to get our minds off God and onto our circumstances. He strives to steal the stability we have in Jesus Christ.
This is why we must refuse to follow the enemy’s leading into an imaginary future or an unfortunate past. When we find ourselves being lured into Satan’s lies, we need to stop and “take our thoughts captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) by confessing the truth of God’s Word.
Living in the present — focusing on the here and now — doesn’t mean you don’t set goals or you ignore your mistakes. Knowing God is the great I AM means you rest in His eternal sovereignty, goodness, and love, and you trust that …
“… in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)
My husband didn’t have a steady job for three long years. It was a difficult season, but God was faithful. When the enemy deceives you into focusing on what if, give him the what for. Take your thoughts captive, and remind yourself that God is the great I AM. He is always in the present. And that’s where He wants you. Because, simply put, God is not the God of what if. God is the God of what is.
Copyright © 12/2018 Glenda Durano, used with permission.