What If?

Have you ever asked what if?

Like … what if I had finished college?

What if I had excercised more last year?

What if I had been brave enough to try out for a part in the community play?

When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted to attend a missionary training school after high school. My parents refused, and insisted that I graduate from college before making that decision. Three weeks after I graduated with a BS, I got married. I never became a missionary. And sometimes I wonder how my life would have been different if I had followed that path. It’s not that I feel going to college was a mistake. It’s more out of curiosity that I wonder what if?

Part of what my writer friends and I do when we meet to critique each other’s work is to brainstorm problem areas in our manuscripts. We throw out ideas starting sentences with, “What if …?” What if the smell of coffee makes the heroine nauseous, but the hero owns a coffee shop? Our wacky ideas lead us down trails that sometimes work, and sometimes don’t. But the exercise opens our minds to possibilities.

I recently watched a new movie on one of the Christian channels (GMC) called What If? The lead was played by Kevin Sorbo, and the movie was produced by Jerry Jenkins. When I first began watching I thought, boring. I’d seen the same storyline in three other movies over the holidays. Hero (or heroine) is successful in business and gets a second chance to see what his life would have been like if he had married his college sweetheart, started a family, and lived a simpler life.

But then the movie took a turn. It wasn’t just about what if he'd made a different career choice. Instead of taking a short detour like he’d promised his fiancé, the hero had chosen to continue on the detour and not follow his real calling—to become a minister. In the movie he was able to see how different his lives and the lives of others would have been.

I guess that’s what struck me about this film. What if we know our calling, and decide not to follow it? Out of fear we’ll fail. (The bills have to be paid, after all! And then there's that thing called pride.) Maybe we’re afraid that others won’t understand or approve. Some of us may refuse to follow our calling because we don’t like change—we’re too comfortable where we are. We may even fear success.

I’m not just talking about a calling to be a minister or a missionary. I’m talking about whatever God has placed in our hearts. A passion for something that nothing else can fill. A calling also involves using the gifts and talents God has given us to make the lives of those around us better.

So what if? What if we follow that calling?

And what if we don’t?


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