October 29, 2009
If Only I Had …
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
John 8:32 (NIV)
There's a simple little script many of us play in our mind—simple, yet incredibly dangerous. Dare I say it's one of the biggest things that hold us back from feeling fulfilled in our relationship with God. It's a script tangled in a lie that typically goes something like this: I could really be happy and fulfilled if only I had …
… a skinnier body.
… a husband.
… a husband who was more tender and romantic.
… more money.
… a more successful career.
… a better personality.
… a baby.
… smarter kids.
I don't know what your "if only I had" statements are, but I do know that none of them will bring fulfillment. They might bring temporary moments of happiness… but not true fulfillment.
In the book I just wrote, "Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl," I expose the "if only I had" lie with this truth: Apart from a thriving relationship with God, even if we got everything on our list, there would still be a hollow gap in our soul.
Instead of saying, "If only I had" and filling in the blank with some person, possession, or position, make a choice to replace that statement with God's truth. Here are some examples that have helped me battle the temptation to let people, possessions, or positions take God's place in my life.
I no longer say, "If only I had a daddy who loved me.…" Instead, I say, "Psalm 68:5 promises God will be a father to the fatherless."
Maybe your gap isn't left by an absent father but by a friend who hurt you. Or perhaps a husband who left you. Or the children you've longed to have and still don't. Whatever that gap is, God is the perfect fit for your emptiness. Pray this paraphrase of Luke 1:78-79: "Because of the tender mercy of my God by which the rising sun will come to me from heaven—to shine on my darkness and in what feels like the shadow of death to me—I will find peace."
I no longer say, "If only I had more possessions …." Instead, I recite Matthew 6:19-21: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Any possession I ever long for, no matter how good it may seem, will only be good for a limited time. In light of eternity, every possession is in the process of breaking down, becoming devalued, and will eventually be taken from us. If I set my heart solely on acquiring more things, I'll feel more vulnerable with the possibility of loss.
Possessions are meant to be appreciated and used to bless others. They were never meant to be identity markers. It's not wrong to enjoy the possessions we have as long as we don't depend on them for our heart's security.
I no longer say, "If only I had a better position .…" Instead, I say the words of Psalm 119:105: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." I don't need a better position to get where I should go. I don't have to figure out my path and jockey to get ahead. I need God's Word to guide me. As I follow Him and honor Him step-by-step, I can be assured that I'm right where He wants me to be doing what He wants me to do.
Whatever "if only I had" statement you are struggling with, you can replace it with solid truths from Scripture that will never leave you empty. It's a bold assertion to make but it's true. When God's Word gets inside of us, it becomes the new way we process life. It rearranges our thoughts, our motives, our needs, and our desires. Our soul was tailor-made to be filled with God and His truth, therefore, it seeps into every part of us and fills us completely.
Dear Lord, I acknowledge only You can fill those empty places in my heart. Help me to stop the "if only I had" cycle and instead be set free with Your truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit Lysa TerKeurst's blog to read a chapter from her new book, "Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl."
Click here to order Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst
What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst
What "if only I had" statements do you struggle with?
What are some verses you could use to replace your "if only I had" lies?
Why do we struggle with trying to get our needs met by people, possessions and positions?
What are some dangerous outcomes of this pattern?
Luke 1:78-79: "Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." (NIV)
Psalm 119: 30-32, "I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." (NIV)
© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Thursday, 29 October 2009.