Too often, when Christians think about their calling they look around and lament, “If only the culture was different…”, “If only people cared about church like they used to…”, “If only people were committed like they used to be…” And there is truth in what they say. Things would be easier if people were more committed. They would be easier if the culture was different. We wouldn’t have such a hard time if people cared more about God, the Gospel, and the Kingdom.
But so what? They don’t.
What ‘might have been’ and all of the ‘ifs’ in the world won’t change where we are. Look, things are what they are. It is what it is.
Instead of thinking about what ‘could have been’ in some alternate timeline, why not focus on doing what we can with what is?
There Once Were Two Farmers…
Think about it this way: Imagine being a farmer before anyone had thought about hitching a plow to an ox…
So you’re out in your field using a hoe to till the ground. And as you work, sweating and aching, you have two choices.
1. You could think back and reminisce about the old days when you used to hunt and gather. You could complain to the rest of your family – also plowing with their hoes – about how things would be better if there were more hunting grounds close by or better berry patches. Maybe you’d even point off in the distance and tell them that there used to be a rich pasture not too far off where some of the most delicious bison grazed.
2. You could realize that the bison are dead. The hunting fields are gone. The berries don’t grow very well. And you’ll have to deal with what you’ve got. Maybe, instead of thinking about what ‘could have been’, you’ll start to think about what ‘could be.’ And as you look down at your hoe, and then glance over toward the little pen where your bull and two cows graze – you get an idea. So you make some adjustments to your hoe, hook it to the back of your bull (after you turn him into a steer), and suddenly you’re making ten times more progress than ever before – even more than you were back in the ol’ hunting and gathering days.
You see, we never make progress when we’re focused on the past or on what ‘might have been.’
If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever – if God knows the end from the beginning – then he isn’t surprised by the way things are. Even though we may be. And I can guarantee you that he isn’t thinking about ‘what might have been.’ He’s looking forward to what ‘could be.’
We have a mission – a great commission (see Matthew 28:18-20 for a refresher). Jesus didn’t say “Go therefore…as long as the conditions are favorable.” He didn’t say “Go therefore…while it’s easy.” He just said “Go.”
So quit worrying over what ‘might have been’, start focusing on what ‘could be’, and “Go.”
There’s a plow that needs inventing.