There’s a monster living under my bed. His name is IF. He hides out during the daytime, but in the darkness of the night when I wake to roll over, he slithers out and to whispers in my ear. The sound of his ugly voice sets my mind to squirming and rouses the regrets and fears that I’ve been able to discipline away during the day.
His standard opening line is “IF ONLY . . . ,”followed by a list of my failures. If only I had. If only I hadn’t. If only I were. If only I weren’t. If only I had said. If only I hadn’t said. IF directs a long, mournful parade of errors that leaves me littered with remorse–and miserable, for I know he is right about all this. I am only a sinner, after all, and sinners sin.
Then he moves from the past to the future. “WHAT IF . . .?” he begins—and there’s no end to the frightening possibilities that monster can suggest. Even without his help, once I’m awake in the silent darkness, I find it easy to imagine sinkholes down the road, dead ends and drop-offs waiting to doom our ministry and hurt people I love. Not all those dangers are figments of my groggy imagination. I know that some are real, though exaggerated by the darkness, and rapidly approaching.
But that monster IF has a terror of his own—my Father, Almighty God! As soon as I gather my sleepy wits enough to call out His name, He rushes to my rescue. With His strong right arm, He drives away my personal ogre and along with him, the anxieties that have shattered my peace and stolen my sleep. Then rather than trembling under the accusations and insinuations of IF, I lie quietly, listening to timeless, encouraging words spoken in the voice of the One Who cannot lie:
“IF God be for us, who can be against us?”
“IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.“
“IF you walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them, then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit . . . . And I will give peace . . . and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid.”
Meditating on such sweet IFs, I soon relax into sleep, and the monster, deprived of his prey, goes away—for a while. I’m not sure where he goes (though I do know who his father is). Maybe one of these days he or one of his nasty brothers will show up at your house. You might want to be ready, just in case. But don’t be afraid. Your Father’s IFs are bigger, stronger, and truer than any old monster’s. Just call out His name.
Romans 8:31, I John 1:9, Leviticus 26:3-6