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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Ezra 8:31, 32 On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested three days.
Esther 6:1, 2 That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.