What Might Have Been

“Imagine that your life is over, and you are led to a small room. There are two chairs in the room, one for you and one for God (who gets a very large chair), and there’s a VCR. God puts a tape into the machine. It has your name on it and is labeled What Might Have Been.
Imagine watching all that God might have done with your life if you had let him. Imagine seeing what he might have done with your financial resources if you had trusted him to be generous. Imagine seeing what he might have done with your giftedness if you had trusted him enough to be daring. Imagine what he might have done in your relationships if you had trusted him enough to be fully truthful and fully loving. Imagine what he might have done with your character, if you had dared to confess sin, acknowledge temptation, and pursue growth.” – If You Want To Walk On Water You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat

Sometimes I think such concepts should not try to be used on people with powerful imaginations and/or sci-fi fans – they don’t always work well or get the point across. I grew up watching Stargate SG-1 and Star Trek (TNG, VOY, & DS9.) I know a thing or two about imagining alternate realities. I can imagine scenarios where I’m successful and where I’m a failure. I can imagine scenarios where I have everything and I have nothing. I can imagine scenarios where I don’t believe in God or I do believe in other gods. I can imagine any combination of power, success, wealth, connection, and status in varying degrees. Ultimately, I am the sum of my experiences and the result of my decisions. Altering these things results in a completely different me.

I’ve been told all my life that God is omniscient and all-powerful. One would think that this particular combination would be mighty enough to work wonders even through someone who is resistant. It’s not as if everybody mentioned in the Bible is an example of first-time immediate and unquestioning obedience. Moses tried to come up with excuses, Jonah ran the other way, and even Gideon tested God. Even with these and other character flaws, God used them to challenge the gods of ancient Egypt, to free the Israelites, to bring a city to repentance, and to fight Israel’s foes. Being afraid to confront one’s past, being anxious to see God’s wrath destroy his enemies, and being uncertain of how God’s going to use me to accomplish his will didn’t stop Him from doing what he did. God was able to turn the pharisee Saul into the apostle Paul.

‘What might have been’ had everything been different? What might have been if Moses had accepted God’s word and Pharaoh let the Israellites go and the Israelites didn’t wander the wilderness for forty years is something we’ll never know. That’s a whole other story that didn’t happen. What might have happened if Jonah didn’t run away, preached at Nineveh, and rejoiced at their repentance is something that we’ll never know. That’s a whole other story that didn’t happen. What might have happened if Gideon boldly served God in the light of day and accepted his power without question is something we’ll never know. That’s a whole other story that didn’t happen.

What might have been if I had been a perfect believer in everything is something we’ll never know. That’s a whole other story that didn’t happen. That’s a whole other person who isn’t me. The decisions that I have made cannot be changed. Who I am affects how I make my decisions. Who I am is the sum of my experiences and the result of my decisions. So I have to believe that my God is powerful enough to turn my ‘no’ into a resounding ‘yes’. To make whatever is ‘bad’ turn out to be ‘good’. And through me at my ‘worst’ I can be the ‘best’. Because this God of mine doesn’t always use the best and brightest and strongest and wisest:

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

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One thought on “What Might Have Been

  1. I’m with you on this one. I am uncomfortable with any kind of thinking that portrays man as able to somehow subvert or limit God’s sovereignty and omnipotence. I mean, really? We’re going to stop God from fulfilling His good purposes? No.

    I understand that this kind of imaginative scenario is used to try and motivate people, but God will use each person differently, based on their uniqueness and how He created and shaped them (and continues to shape them). And in spite of weakness, fear, resistance, etc. Or even because of them, to more fully glorify Himself.

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...Anyway, that's just how I feel about it ... What do you think?

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