Daily D – Isaiah 48:17-18
This is what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am the LORD your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands. Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
ISAIAH 48:17-18 (CSB)
Two of the saddest words ever uttered are, “if only.”
- If only I had said “Yes.”
- If only I had said “No.”
- If only I had finished what I started.
- If only I had never started down that path.
Every heart knows its own “if only.”
Years ago, I read the antidote to If Only. It is another word pair that reshapes our perspective. Try these two words on for size the next time If Only arises in your mind: Next Time.
- Next time I will say “Yes.”
- Next time I will say “No.”
- Next time I will finish what I start.
- Next time I will stop before I take one false step.
If Only is about experiences now past. It is about failure, coming up short, quitting too soon, or jumping in too quickly. Experience is not the best teacher, you may have heard, evaluated experience is. One good way to properly evaluate the problems of our past is to cast them into the future and describe in our minds what we will do differently next time.
God says to us here, after reminding us who he is and what he has done and what he wants to do in our lives, “I am the LORD your God.” “I am” reminds us he is the eternally present God. The lessons he taught us yesterday are still valid and true. The fact that we disregarded or disobeyed them makes them no less so.
The good news is that he has new lessons today. He says, “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.” This is present tense just like God is the Eternally Present One. New day? New lessons. New mercies (Lamentations 3:22, 23). New opportunities to begin again more intelligently.
“If only you had paid attention to my commands.” Next time? Listen to God’s clear directions. Follow his path. What can we reasonably expect when we align ourselves with God in this manner? Then our peace will be like a river, and our righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Our Father in heaven offers us purpose and peace. Our Next Opportunity to Win begins NOW. What is God saying to you? How will you respond?
Our Father, thank you that you give us opportunities to begin again more intelligently. Having reflected on our If Only experiences, we are ready for Next Time. What do you want for us today? That is what we want, too. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.