A few years back a friend shared with us a few tips from a book about handling harrowing occasions that we all fear. We learned about how to wrestle free from an alligator, how to get out of quicksand, or treat a bullet wound, or survive an attack of killer bees, and even how to perform an emergency tracheotomy with a ball point pen.
However useful this information may be, however, the chances of ever requiring it are infinitesimal. And yet, amazingly, we found that just focusing upon these matters seemed to spawn a little anxiety on our parts. What if one of these dreaded occasions actually occurred? Would we remember the good advice? Would we be ready?
The sad truth is, many of us live a lot of our lives snarled up with just that sort of “what if” thinking about wretched possibilities that have a very low likelihood of ever occurring. And while preparedness for every eventuality may be a good thing, strength-sapping, joy-stealing “what if” obsessions are not. “What if” thinking can cost us our peace of mind.
But there is another style of thinking that fosters more confidence than anxiety and more hope than dread. It is thinking that dwells less upon grim and unlikely scenarios and more upon what is uplifting and sustaining. It is thinking that invites us to live “as if” every one of God’s promises to us of abundant blessing and eternal grace are absolutely reliable and claimable right now, despite the circumstance. That kind of “as if” thinking can point us toward greater assurance and greater serenity.
Now naturally, none of us has yet witnessed every one of God’s promises fulfilled, so “as if” thinking requires a bit of trust. And trust is a commodity some of us lack. But even the most skeptical of us can learn to cultivate a greater trust in God, bit by bit, day by day, slowly but surely.
Trust in God grows when we recognize we’ve been sustained time and time again, and we’ve made it this far. Trust in God comes in acknowledging that so much of what has most blessed our lives we neither willed nor earned. God has simply given us more than we knew how to ask for.
With trust that the best and most essential gifts of God are reliable, we can live “as if” nothing ahead can ultimately defeat or derail us, no matter how troubling things first appear.
Is there something that troubles or puzzles you? Do you need to take a side-step, change courses, re-think a conclusion, re-commit, re-arrange, re-prioritize, re-group? Try approaching the challenges ahead as an “as if” thinker instead of a “what if” thinker. None of us can know precisely what the future holds, but God has promised there is nothing to fear. Let’s live as if we believe that’s true.