I face the task of procrastination’s choice. The things I had every intention of doing differently, I now have to face and complete under the proverbial Timekeeper’s gun. The inevitable “if” begins to try to crush my spirit’s energy into despairing lethargy and excuse for dealing with what is. Did you ever find yourself “second guessing” the outcome of your actions? “If” I had only done it that way, things would be different. I recognize, however, that the sensible thing to do is see what is before me and attack the job, ignoring the tempting excuse of “if”. Hey, I just noticed that the word “if” is in the word “different” and that sensible contains the word “since”(I know, different spelling, but it rhymns), quite the opposite idea. I need to be sensible. Well, you get my point. It has given me some thoughts on the subject of “if” and “since” as we are given in Scriptures. See what you think about this.
Sometime ago I read in Cowman’s “Springs in the Valley” that a man tried unsuccessfully to remove a large boulder from his garden. His successor to the land made it into a show place with the stone as a centerpiece. One said “if” and stayed miserable, and the other said “since” and increased his joy. Turning “ifs” into “since” is the work that God has called us to do.
“If” is an excuse that causes us to reject God’s surpassing knowledge of what is right experience for His called out ones. “Since” is a recognition of things as they are, but with an overcoming God Who uses such seeming impossibilities to reflect His glorious purpose.
Martha (John 11:21, “If thou hadst been here.”) saw only a death stone rolled into place over the grave of her brother Lazarus, not the Stone Who would crush death’s hold. Her “if” did not see the surpassing purpose of Christ delay in coming to the aid of His friend.
The chief priests (Mark 15:31-32, “Likewise also the chief priests mocking said…Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross…” and Luke 20:17, “…The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.”) stumbled over this Stone with their “if” of rejection against the theology of a cross king of Israel, not a Stone that would foundation a new kingdom order. Theirs was an unspoken “if thou art the Christ”!
And the greatest example, Jesus, prostrate on the traditional garden stone, cried “if” but shouted a firm “nevertheless” and that Stone took on a grand and glorious beauty to grace a garden called Gethsemane. (Luke 22:42, “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”)
Lord, open our eyes to Your faithfulness to be on time, when You determine the time is right, in spite of our different and limited perception. Truly, Christ is the stone that many stumble over in their own conception of religious “right”. But indeed, He is the beautiful corner “Stone” that brings new beauty to our “gardens”. (I Peter 2:4-9, “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also, as lively stones…to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are…chosen that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.") Oh, Father, help me not miss the truth of Your surpassing Stone.
Here’s my poetic rendering on the subject. May you be encouraged to make This Stone a centerpiece and not a “stumblingblock”. Say not if things were different, but since they are as they are, be SINCE-ABLE!
OH, here’s my poem. Now, I’ve got to go tackle my own SENSE-ABILITY!
A stone anchored deep in my garden so fair,
I sought to remove it, seemed out of place there.
But despite all my efforts to remove it away
It resisted my strivings with a resolute stay.
Till, finally I tried to grow ‘round its base,
There finding this truth my mind can’t erase.
The stone over which I stumbled was He
Whose beauty I found in an Old Rugged Tree.
Now my garden’s a showplace with Stone centerpiece,
Its strength and its beauty, my life’s garden increase.