What if questions

What if God had chosen a different way to save the world? Or what if He had decided we weren’t worth saving at all? What if keeping the Law were the only way to get to heaven? The world would be a different place.

There’s a book by a writer named Bill Myers that I really enjoy. The book is called Eli, and if you haven’t read it, you should. It’s a quick read. And basically, it looks at what the world would be like if Jesus didn’t come until the 20th century. It looks at how modern culture would have reacted to Him. 

Imagine. I mean, really imagine what the world would be like if Christ hadn’t come when He did. Think of the state we would be in now.

For one thing, I wouldn’t be a Christian. No one in the United States would be. No one in England would be. No one in Europe or Africa would be. And no one in most of Asia. Because one of the biggest things that changed when Jesus came was that salvation was offered freely to non-Jewish people.

If Jesus hadn’t come, we would all still be held accountable under the Law, which no one can live up to. If Jesus hadn’t come, we would still have to live by the rules laid out in Leviticus. We would have to offer sacrifices. We would have to dot every i and cross every t.

But that’s not the way God decided to do it. And, of course, God in His eccentricity made salvation happen in the strangest way possible.

The passage for today is Luke 1:26-28.

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Can you imagine what this must have been like for this poor girl? I’ve never seen an angel so I can’t compare, but I’m sure it must have been terrifying.

What would have happened if Mary had refused to do what God was asking of her? After all, this was a big deal. And she had to know what people would think. But she didn’t refuse. She accepted the responsibility of it. I don’t think God would have chosen her otherwise.

And I guess at the end of the day, the what if questions don’t really matter. Because speculation on what could have happened doesn’t really benefit anyone, except to be thankful that it didn’t happen that way.

It’s a good thought for a Wednesday, midway through the week. Because there are a lot of what if questions flying around in my life right now. And I can sit and ask them all day long. I can let them take over until the speculation glues me to the ground because I’m so afraid of what might happen that I never take steps to do anything at all.

But all I have to do is think about the story of Jesus’ birth. There are so many bad things that could have happened. I could keep us here all day listing them. But the beautiful part is that God had everything planned already. He knew everything that was going to happen. He had everything figured out. And none of the what if’s applied.

And I don’t know if that’s comforting in your life or not, but it makes a big difference in my life. Because I always feel like I’m on the edge of a cliff and one wrong move from me will send me toppling over the side. So it’s nice to remember that God has a plan and He’s working everything out for my good, even down to the specific details that I have no chance of foreseeing. Because He’s God. And that’s just what He does.

So if you’re paralyzed by what if questions today, stop asking them. They don’t do you any good. Because if God can work out the birth of His Son to a virgin at just the right time and keep them both safe and well cared for around the First century, God can handle whatever stuff is going on in the lives of you and me.