If Only

If Only

When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” (John 11:32-34)

Read: Jeremiah 23:33 – 24:10, 29:1 – 31:14

Relate: If only… A few weeks back I found myself in that state where you’re not quite dreaming but not fully awake either. My mind wandered back to a random moment in my life. It was when I found out we would be moving from Syracuse to Rochester back in junior high, and I played back an “if only” moment. What if I had reacted and handled that year differently? My waking dream started there and played through my life from that point forward imagining how things might have turned out different right up to the current day.

Crazy thing, the next day I found myself coming awake in a similar fashion except this time the moment was in late high school when on a vacation to Myrtle Beach. It was a moment where I found myself at a place of serious temptation that I should not have allowed myself to get into. In reality I did not give into the temptation but I did not run from it either. In my dream I fell. I failed and my I mentally played my life moved forward from that failure.

The next day it was a playground fight I got in back in fifth grade. The next morning it was an “almost” relationship in college. Soon I was having these “if only” moments at other points in my day. Once or even twice was OK. It’s healthy to reflect back every now and then on where we’ve been and how the grace of God has brought us to where we are today. It is not OK to obsessively live in the past and that was what I was starting to do. I needed to nip it in the bud and with the help of God, recenter myself in the present.

The fact that the first thing both Martha and Mary said to Jesus was the same, “If only…” leads me to think that this was something they had been bouncing around together for a while now. They are both still in the depths of sorrow so this is completely understandable and justified but I think the potential, the danger, was there for that “if only” to become a root of bitterness in their lives.

React: The “if only’s” I had been thinking of were more based on my decisions and choices but M&M’s were more on something God could have done differently. Let me ask a question: “What is something you had wished God had done differently in your life” Does something immediately jump into our mind? If not then this probably isn’t something we dwell on often. If some specific thing does pop up then we might have an issue of bitterness that we need to root out. Is there something in our past that has become a spiritual or emotional scar? Are we burying anger at God? Is there hidden bitterness because we do not fully understand His ways and His reasons? The God who can raise the dead is more than capable of healing our past. Will we let Him?


God, I surrender my past to You. It is what it is and there is no amount of dwelling or obsessing over it can change it. I am grateful for all of it, the good and the bad, because it is what has brought me to this moment right now at Your feet. If there is any bitterness that needs rooting out, God please do it. If there is healing that needs to take place, Great Physician, do Your thing. I recognize that this moment will be tomorrow’s memory. Help me to live my life in such a way that the “if only’s” of my future will be of gratitude in how You led me down the right path. In all things, past, present, and future, may You receive the glory in my life.


6 thoughts on “If Only

  1. If Only is a toxic disease that can literally rob us of our life. Thank you so much for this post. I was in tears by the end of it because of all the wasted moments I have spent on “If Only”. I will take this post and your prayer into my heart and allow the spirit to heal my regrets.
    God Bless you.

  2. There is a message under the if only moments. It’s not a message of self-blaming and regret but a reminder to follow our heart and don’t act out of fear, guilt, shame but out of love, compassion and joy and that all the best decisions are made out of that place.

  3. Thank you for this wonderful message. It is too often that we beat ourselves up for our past mistakes and every time something bad happens, the thought comes to mind that God is punishing us. God is a forgiving God and He embraces a relationship with us. Blessings on your ministry!

  4. Thanks for sharing your inspiring insight. “I am the resurrection and the Life . . .” (John 11:25) is my most favorite passage, and it happens for Martha who grieved for the loss of her brother–‘If only’ meant she doubted the Master’s ability to raise him. But Jesus actually cried with her. Powerful.
    And, this record was witness to the community of Jews that helped crucify him, and said, If he is the Messiah, let him save himself. So, he died for the Jews who knew prophecy but could not believe in their Messiah. We can pray for all lives to matter in light of the Gospel. Amen 🙂

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