Have you ever started a sentence with the words, “If only…”? If you have, you know that phrase IS followed with some regret from the past. “If only my parents were more affirming.” “If only my dog hadn’t run away.” You get the idea.
“If onlys” have existed since ancient times. In Old Testament days, Joseph had a lengthy list of possible “if onlys.” If only his brothers hadn’t thrown him into a pit and sold him into slavery. Then he was thrown into prison after being falsely accused. If only the truth had been told.
But Joseph chose not to allow the “if onlys” to control his attitude. He made the choice to trust God with his future rather than dwell on the regrets of the past.
Or think about Esther, one of my favorites from the Old Testament. She was a beautiful young woman raised in Persia by her cousin Mordecai. At a young age she was chosen by the king to be his wife. Haman, the king’s right-hand man, had an intense dislike for the Jews and through trickery convinced the king to sanction his plan for Jewish destruction. Neither Haman nor the king knew that Esther was a Jew.
The plot thickened and ultimately Queen Esther ignored the extreme risk and entered the king’s chambers with a plan to stop Haman. If only Esther could have found someone else to stop Haman’s evil. If only the king had been a little more tolerant of unannounced visitors. If only she hadn’t been chosen as queen.
But Esther did not dwell on her possible “if onlys.” She chose to walk in faith not fear believing she was made queen “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).
When I read about these Old Testament heroes I want to shout, “No if onlys for me either!”
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on. Philippians 3:13–14
I want to trust God, walk in faith, and overcome the regrets of the past. I want to overcome the if onlys and Live Free!
Read Kendra Smiley’s new book Live Free and be encouraged to overcome the if onlys and what ifs of life.