WHAT IF IT WERE TODAY?
What If . . . ?
There are times in our lives when asking, “What if...?” is not such a good idea. If it becomes a chronic pattern, it can be a sign of worry and a lack of faith in God. Worriers try to imagine every possible contingency, every possible problem which might arise. But it is impossible to do that. We are not omniscient, as God is. Common sense and reasonable caution are appropriate. But Christians who find themselves obsessively dwelling on the “what if’s” of life need to return to Scriptures such as Philippians 4:6 and First Peter 5:7, resting once more in the loving care of our heavenly Father.
That being said, there are situations when asking “What if...?” can bring both encouragement and a healthy self-appraisal. One of these is addressed in a lovely hymn by Lelia Naylor Morris (1862-1929). The authors of our hymns come from many walks of life. For her part, in addition to being a homemaker, Mrs. Morris operated a ladies’ hat shop for a number of years. The Lord also used her to write poetry and compose gospel music. Her accomplishments are all the more remarkable considering that for most of her adult life Lelia Morris was totally blind.
One of her songs deals with the theme of the return of Christ, asking the question, "What If It Were Today?" It begins, "Jesus is coming to earth again, what if it were today? / Coming in power and love to reign, what if it were today? / Coming to claim His chosen Bride, all the redeemed and purified, / Over this whole earth scattered wide, what if it were today?" It is a possibility worth considering. The Apostle Paul commended the Thessalonian Christians for living expectantly. He says, "You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven" (I Thess. 1:9-10). He himself lived in hope of that event in his own lifetime, assuring his readers, "We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them [the dead in Christ] ...to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thess. 4:17).
Some do not have that expectation. Peter writes of skeptics who say, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation" (II Pet. 3:4). But the apostle assures them the seeming delay is a sign of the patience of God. He wants them to repent and be saved (II Pet. 3:8-10). In the end, His eternal plan will be fulfilled. So, what if this very day the last trumpet sounded and God's children were caught up into the presence of Christ? What then? "Behold, I make all things new," the Lord tells us (Rev. 21:5). Then all the burdens and heartaches of this sin-cursed earth will be forever behind us (Rev. 21:4). What a day that will be! As Mrs. Morris's hymn says, "Satan's dominion will soon be o'er...sorrow and sighing shall be no more--Oh, that it were today!"
But there is another side to it. The Bible says, "Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself" (I Jn. 3:3). And "Looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless" (II Pet. 3:14). Even as Christians, are we prepared to meet Him? Or would we be ashamed of how we have been living? Or embarrassed at the activities in which we are involved? How might our plans change, if we knew the Lord was coming back today? Lelia Morris's hymn asks, "Faithful and true would He find us here, / If He should come today?" As Jesus warns His followers, "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming" (Matt. 25:15). What if...? It pays to be ready!