If Only

Sunday, April 28, 2024
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Ye Gates Lift Up Your Heads"1 (Lyrics)

In Blessings from Pain, I told about my fall which resulted in a broken patella and subsequent surgery ten days later. As the days dragged on until surgery, I developed a list of "if onlys":

  • If only I hadn't taken that shortcut across the street through that dirt strip and had been watching where I was walking, I wouldn't have fallen.
  • If only I had called 911 as soon as I fell, I would have been taken care of right away.
  • If only, when I got home, I had gone straight to an emergency room that was part of a hospital, instead of the smaller one around the corner from my house, I might have been admitted for surgery sooner.

2 Corinthians 7:10 – For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There's no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. (NLT)

I'm sure that I'm not alone in this mode of "if only" thinking. We look back on our lives and start obsessing over situations in which our actions or reactions were not as Christlike or as wise as they should have been. We develop lists like mine and dwell on them, often obsessively. That becomes sin as we endlessly rehearse our failures with no hope of, or intent to, change as we wallow in our guilt and frustrate everyone around us. We leave God out of the picture and deny the miracle of forgiveness; we want to pay for our own sin instead. We need to remember that on the cross, Jesus said, "It is finished." (John 19:30)

Each of my "if onlys" has a practical response. I need to accept that I did what I thought was best at the time and leave it at that:

  • I am prone to clumsiness. I can't obsess over that; I just need to be more aware of where I walk.
  • When I fell, I was in California, USA, away from home, and responsible for my sister's adult disabled daughters, and I felt that I needed to get home to them first.
  • It's snowbird season in Arizona, USA, and doctors' schedules are full.

Acts 3:19 – Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. (NIV)

Do you have an "if only" list about something in your past? Let that sorrow and regret lead to repentance: take steps to prevent that type of action or event from happening again. Use it to grow in your walk with Christ and experience those "times of refreshing". Remember: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

Prayer: Father, we are so prone to wallow in our guilt instead of repenting and turning to You. Help us to leave our regrets in the past, to accept Your forgiveness, and to act like the new creations that we are. Amen.

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About the author:

Sharon Cook <craftercook@gmail.com>
Apache Junction, Arizona, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen to that, Sharon.

    Very true! Very apt!
    God bless you Ms. Cook.

    Thank-you Sharon, this has been especially heavy on my heart these past few weeks.

    Good advice in your devotional today, Sharon. Yes, it is so easy to wallow in our life’s happenings but so much better for us to seek forgiveness and go forward with positive thoughts of our loving Lord’s care. Blessings for these special writings you prepare.

    Great message Sharon,
    Hopefully you are all healed. I like how you turned your “if only” around to be positive in the second half. If only is definitely a waste of time and hopefully we all learn from them and not carry them in our minds. Wishing you a blessed day.

    Great devotional Sharon, and I pray your injury has healed well.
    I think if we are honest with ourselves, we can all attest that there is a “special” tear called Regret and from time to time it trickles down everyone’s face. Therefore your prayer today was perfect!!! Thank you.

    Good morning, Sharon!
    Thank you for your devotional and prayer today. Although I know better, I often allow myself to wallow in guilt about the silliest things. Your prayer today was just what I needed to hear.

    Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us today! I’m struggling today with how to get through to my lottery-addicted son so he will get the help he needs. Every small sum of spending money he gets for personal use is spent immediately on the lottery! Thankfully, he has care givers. It’s heartbreaking to see him struggle with this gambling addiction.

    Good morning, Sharon,
    Thank you for your good words this morning. I have an if only story as well, I wrote about it some years ago.
    Just over 35 years ago, our little 3-year-old grandson almost drowned in our swimming pool.
    if only my wife had not let him go outside,
    if only I had been there with him,
    if only he had not thrown that stick on the ice in the pool,
    if only he had not tried to retrieve it,
    if only the ice had been thicker, so many if onlys.
    He is 38 years old now, has a family of his own. We had our anniversary recently and he was the first to contact us.
    Your devotional brought back many memories.
    Blessings on your day.

    AHH, our lives are full of “if onlys,” Sharon. Thanks for a good reminder of the Biblical way to look at “if onlys.”

    This is a perfect follow up to your Blessings in Pain!!!
    Sometimes we think we are the only one in the IF ONLY department!! I broke my wrist after climbing only 3 steps of a ‘closed’ ladder! If only I had opened it! If only I had gone to a better physio therapist I would have healed better … and so on!
    But I want to learn from it and see the blessings that come from this injury!
    Thank you – I will keep these two devotionals for sure to help others!

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