“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…” Philippians 3:13
You know that feeling…you made the turn with confidence, you remember a few of the landmarks but as each white line creeps further down the road, a gnawing question begins to raise from your gut, “Did I go the right way?”
You look at the odometer and the clock, calculating that by now you should have been there.
Your mind begins to retrace the steps, desperately searching what other options could have been taken. Your foot starts to slide off the accelerator, as you seek for a clue. Then at just the right moment, when the doubt, anxiety, worry, and fear are about to consume you, you arrive. The rush of relief and joy overtake those other emotions, wiping them away.
Whatever the life decision, that same question gnaws at the back of our mind-“Did I go the right way?”
What if I took an economics class? What if I had responded to that email? What if I had asked her out? What if I hadn’t taken this job? What if I had said “no?”
The “What If”s parade through our minds tempting us that the alternate route would have been better. Because it is always greener on the other side.
The other day, I saw the parade pass by. I found myself perched in my WholeFoods’ balcony watching a worker stack cheese. It had been an extremely tiring day of work and I found myself envying this man. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but think: Life would be so much better if that was my job. All day, all I would have to do is stack cheese: Colby, Munster, Parmesan. I imagined him clocking out and jumping into his Prius. During his drive home he probably does not lug the stress of figuring out which cheese would be there the next morning, which cheese needed a hug, which cheese was offended, which cheese’s marriage is about to splinter, which cheese is waiting for a doctor’s report, which cheese does not feel the sermons are inspiring enough, which cheese has just found a better place to worship…the “What If” parade was dancing in my head. What if I just stacked cheese.
All the while, I am certain that man was stacking cheese watching his own “What If” parade. The grass will always be greener.
There will always be a better job, a better house, a better friend, a better vacation, a better meal…
As someone once said, realize that as you are complaining about your spouse to a friend, and the blonde across the room catches your eye…remember…someone is complaining to their friend about her, too. The “What If” parade passes in front of everyone.
I have determined that this is precisely what Hell is. Hell is a constant loop of the “What If” parade; where we are constantly driving down the road seeing what our life could have been if we had lived it better. The feelings of shame, guilt, anxiety, worry and regret build up with each passing white line pushing us deeper into despair and the pits of Hell.
Heaven, though, will be that sweet relief of arriving at our destination where the joy will wipe away all the “What If”s so we can hear God’s promise, through Christ, saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Paul tells us to forget about what has happened in the past, so we can push forward one step closer to Jesus. That is why Christ’s invitation is to follow Him so that we can stop worrying “What If” but journey forth the best we can with all we got.