If Only

Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to the emperor.” Acts 26:32

If only.
If only… I had remembered to take something out of the freezer, we would be eating dinner right now.
If only …we had left a half hour ago, we could have gotten ahead of the traffic.
If only… I had said “I love you” one more time that morning before they left.

If only. Wishing circumstances different. Wondering what plan B might have offered. Regretting what was or wasn’t done.
When King Agrippa makes this comment to Governor Festus, Paul has been handed off from one politician to another. None of them saw reason that he should die; but in the same breath, none of them wanted to upset the Jewish leaders who were threatened by his message of salvation through Jesus. When given the choice, the leaders chose to not act, leaving the “blame” for anything that might happen to Paul. Paul had no regrets and remained steadfast in his mission, even if it meant going all the way to the top – which was Caesar. He was willing to accept the consequences, no matter what, because he knew God’s plan was bigger than himself.

I wonder if those leaders ever had thoughts of “if only.”

A little over two years ago, a friend left me a message on the phone – just checking in. At the moment, I was in a store and waited until I checked out before calling back. By that point, my message went to his voice mail. We finally connected 20 minutes later for a brief few seconds to say hi because he was walking into a meeting. Within an hour, my friend would die of a massive heart attack that no one saw coming. I still have that last voice mail on my phone as a reminder of the “if only” moments of life. We don’t get them back and wishing for a do over won’t happen. Making the most of what is right in front of us is what affects our life now and even in days to come. It can also make a difference to others and their future.

Evangelist Billy Graham would often conclude his messages with something like this: you could leave here tonight and die before you make it home – have you accepted Jesus into your life and know that you will go to live with him in heaven when you die – don’t leave here tonight wondering what if, leave here tonight making that choice and knowing for sure.
Every moment we are given is a gift. God allows us to use it to encourage others, to point others to Christ, to give thanks for blessings in our life. The free will God gives us also allows us to choose to critically judge others, to point out the faults of others, to complain about what we don’t have. Or we can simply let the gift sit unused, not benefitting anyone. It is our choice.

As you go through this day, don’t dwell on the “if only”. It will waste the moments you have been given. Instead, make the most of the “only” chance you have to live in this very moment. It will not come around again.
God gives it to you out of love – what will you do with it?

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