Thursday, February 8, 2007

It Is What It Is

“Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.” (Acts 26:32)

All of us can look back longingly and say, “What if…” The secret is being able to work with what is. In Paul’s case, if he had not made the fatal decision to appeal to Caesar (25:11), he would have been a free man. At least, that’s the way King Agrippa saw it. The truth is, Paul received confirmation from an angel of God that he “must be brought before Caesar” (27:24). Was this proof that he had made the right decision? I’m not sure; but it was proof that this was the game plan for his life now.

Before you accuse me of stating the obvious, let me remind you (and me) that when we say, “It is what it is,” it is usually with bitter resignation. Some poor choices are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but others are so crucial that they can threaten our peace of mind, if not our very lives. In light of that, it would seem to me there are two dynamics that should come into play here. First, prevention. One of the most important character skills that parents should instill within their children is how to make wise choices. It is not, however, a once learned, always applied, skill. Even now, my morning prayer almost always includes the words, “Lord, help me to make wise decisions today.”

The second dynamic is providence. By that I mean the ability to see the hand of God ruling or overruling in the affairs of men. Sin is always a poor choice that invariably reaps unwanted consequences; and even choosing unwisely between two or more good options can lead to regret. In either case, however, one is left with the reality of where you are now. This is where God, who knows what it is to start over, is willing to brush through the ashes to bring forth beauty (Isa.61:3) and blow His breath of grace over dry bones and give them new life (Exek.37). Forgiveness is the promise of a future.

What if is a dead-end street; not even God can do anything with it. What is may not be an ideal place to start from, but you can get somewhere from there, if you’re headed in the right direction, and if you’re willing to let go of all the “what if’s.” When we take what is and give it to God, we find out what it—and we—can become.

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