Are you a positive or a negative person? Do you see the possibilities or the problems? Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
When you hear those two little words "what if," do your thoughts turn to a positive outcome or a negative one? Those same two words can produce a scenario of anticipation -- or a scenario of fear in your mind, depending on the next few words in the sentence! For example, if my family was considering where to go on a vacation, I could say, "What if we go to Hawaii this year?" What if we go snorkeling; hang out on the beach; see beautiful sunsets; go zip lining; or simply relax! The positive person thinks, "Yeah! That would be fun! Great idea -- when can we go?"
The negative person could use that same scenario and turn it into a disaster! That person could think, "What if.....the plane crashes. What if..... I drown while snorkeling. What if....I get a sunburn on the beach. What if..... it is cloudy and rainy. What if.....the zip line breaks. Pretty soon the "what ifs" take over this person's life and consume it with fear.
For most of my life I think I've tended to hang out on the negative side of the street. I am the cautious one. I am the one looking for what could go wrong. I don't want to jump out there and try something new because I don't want to fail or be disappointed. I think some of my outlook on life is genetic and some is learned behavior, but I finally had to come to the conclusion that my outlook could and had to be changed! It does take practice, and an encouraging person or two to help me take one step at a time to see and think the positive rather than the negative, but I am trying!
While on vacation last week we actually did go on a zip line adventure! No, not in Hawaii, but in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. My husband and daughter were all for it. I, on the other hand, was bit fearful. I had a couple fears: "What if... I can't do it?" "What if... I freeze and can't get off the platform? What if... I'm the only one screaming like a little girl as I fly down that cable?" Then I looked and saw a seven year old girl who was going to be in our group. My husband assured me that if a seven year old could do it, so could I.
Well I was able to do it and had fun. I didn't have to "jump" off a high platform. I simply sat in the harness and the guide let me gently start to slide. And I never even had the urge to scream like a little girl (except once when he spun us when he started us down one of the lines -- but I contained myself and it actually was fun!) How much would I have missed if I had chosen not to try something new. What if the "what ifs" would have controlled me?
How often do we miss out what God has in store for us simply because we dwell on the negative "what ifs" instead of trusting God. How different would our lives be if we thought the positive: What if....God CAN use me? What if.... His plan really is the best? What if....God has a grand adventure awaiting me if only I would be willing to jump on HIS zip line of faith?
Have I mastered this? Have my negative thoughts and fears vanished? I wish I could say "yes"! But the reality is, I'm still working on it. When those negative "what ifs" try to crowd my mind, I'm beginning to try to turn them around to the positive. So instead of thinking "what if I can't" I have to start thinking "what if I can?" Instead of thinking "what if I'm not good at it", I have to start thinking, what if I am!" Most of what we fear never even happens. But what if it does? Then God will be with us there too. There is a cause (if) and effect (then) in every thing. Think of it in this way: What if (fill in what happens)......then God (will be with me, provide for me, help me, etc.) God is with us and God is for us. Let's join Him in a great adventure and leave the fear and negative "what ifs" behind!
"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10