Posted by: Jo | September 9, 2011

If Only…


This was the headline in the local paper of a small town in the U.S.A.

The story appealed to all sorts of readers. A local homeless man while rummaging through the garbage, came across one of those promotions that coffee shop chains run occasionally. All one had to do was to peel back a tab on the cardboard cup to reveal the prize. To the man’s amazement the tab was intact and on peeling it back the homeless man was now the proud owner of a $50, 000 car! When I read the story, I wasn’t so struck by the homeless man’s win, but more as to why the person who purchased the coffee in the first place threw it away without checking the tab, if only he had bothered to check.

Sometimes our lives are punctuated by “if only” Some of the wrong decisions crippling our lives. The hospice ward of any hospital is a place where “if onlys” abound. It is painful to hear them voiced.regret01

  • If only I had left those cruel words unsaid.
  • If only I had forgiven them before the gap between us became too wide.
  • If only I had taken the first step at reconciliation.
  • If only I could get rid of this guilt I have carried for so long.
  • If only I had spent more time with my family instead of making money.
  • If only I had grasped that opportunity when it came.
  • If only I had been wiser in the way I spent my life.
  • If only I had….

The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom and gives us wonderful tools to banish those “if onlys” in our own lives. The book of Proverbs with its timeless wisdom urges us to seek God‘s word before those cruel words are said,

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

How often have we, without thinking, blurted out words we would immediately regret saying?

Scripture impresses upon us how we can quash those words before they hurt another.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” – Proverbs 12:18

Or imagine all the pain we could avoid, the broken relationships/ the barriers built up between friends or family/ misunderstandings with colleagues, if we sought the wisdom of these words,

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” – Luke 6:37

We could avoid the sadness of missing out on our children’s lives if we listened not to what the world says, but what Scripture says about that restless chasing after money which is so much a part of our present day life.

“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches and they are gone …” – Proverbs 23:4 – 5

There is no longer the need to agonize over every decision, hoping against hope it is the right one, hoping the “if only” will not follow us into the future. When we present our plans to the Lord before we make the decision, comfort flows from his word,

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:3

Then there is the wonderful news for those who seek God’s wisdom. If we choose to follow the wisdom of God‘s word, we will become as lights for others and as we banish the “if only” from our own lives we will encourage others to do the same.

“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” – Daniel 12:3


  1. Thank you, Liz for checking out the blog and for the thoughtful comment


  2. Thank you for these words of wisdom. Your message made me realize that I need to use more wisdom before I speak. Just this morning I was guilty of speaking without thinking how impactful my words would be to my teen age daughter. Now, a very small issue has turned into an enormous one and I have created hostility between us. Next time (hopefully there will be a next time), I need to take a deep breath and hold back the words until I know what kind of message I want to convey.


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