By Martin Morrison.
If only I’d come from a better family. If only that accident didn’t happen. If only I had better health.
If only I could be married
If only I had a better education.
If only I didn’t marry this person
If only I could have children
If only my children weren’t so disobedient If only I had more money.
If only that partner hadn’t stolen all the money. If only that boss hadn’t fired me.
If only I lived in another country.
If only I wasn’t in this lockdown.
If only …….
The thing about our “if onlys” is that there is some truth in all of them. They are all plausible. We live in a broken world. We have all been sinned against in all kinds of ways and more times than we can number. None of us have ever lived in ideal circumstances or perfect relationships. Ever.
The critical flaw with the “if only” mentality, is that I think my greatest problem exists outside of myself and not inside me. David hits the nail on the head when he says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me”. Psalm 51:5. What David is saying is both counter-cultural and almost offensive. He is actually saying that my greatest problem in life is not external but internal. He’s also saying its’ been there from the moment of my conception.
And David gives this deep and internal problem a name, sin. How uncomfortable! It is only when you understand that your greatest problem in all of life is not what has been done to you or happened to you that you can begin to understand God’s grace for you in Christ. It is only when you begin to accept that your greatest need is something with which you were born with that you will begin to hunger for the help that only God can give you. It is only then that you will begin to hunger for more than changes of situation or relationship. It is only then that you will begin to accept the most radical and liberating truth that you can ever conceive.
What is that truth? It is that what you and I really need to be rescued from is ourselves!! We are the biggest danger to ourselves. That is why God offers us the promise of his amazing grace which is the only power that can change us from the inside out. Which is why Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; It is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8. Which is why Jesus tells us, “You must be born again” John 3:7. Of course, none of us are able to give ourselves birth be it the first or second time! All you can do, is to ask God for it. If not now, when?
For further reading: Paul David Tripp, Whiter than Snow. Meditations on Sin and Mercy. (See especially Chapter 9 from which this devotion is derived).