I recently went to another land and stayed for quite awhile. The sights, the treasures, and things of another world drew me in slowly and captivated me long enough to linger. The journey to this land was very quick and simple. I didn’t have to pack luggage or even plan my trip. I first traveled to this land as a young child, again as a young woman, and multiple times as an adult. In fact, I still visit on occasion.
When I’m awake, this land whispers to me with hushed promises of truth, goodness, and beauty beyond what I can see. It keeps me there with hopes of a better tomorrow; a hope of less heartache, riches, obedient children, and a clean home. I am writing to warn you of this land I have visited in the hope you will learn the dangers of lingering too long.
How I Found The “Land Of If Only”
As I mentioned before, this land was not difficult to find. Sometimes I think the land found me. I did not plan any trips and there were many times I did not even enjoy my stay. I stumbled upon a trail that led me to this land. Scripture even mentions this trail, but it gives it another name. Scripture names it discontentment. If you linger long enough on this trail called discontentment, you’ll find yourself on the way to the Land of “If Only.” I’ve traveled there many times by thinking about the following things.
If Only I Had…
There are many things I’ve thought “if only” about. Maybe you have too. But there’s a difference between thinking and dwelling on it. We often think “If only I had….”
- Bought __ first
- Had more time
- Gotten up earlier this morning
These thoughts seem pretty harmless. Well, on the surface they are. We all wish we would’ve done A,B, and C. It’s when we dwell on these thoughts and desire “better” things that the journey to the Land of “If Only” begins.
If Only My…..
This is where my trip to the Land of “If Only” turned into an extended vacation. It started with a few thoughts like:
- I wish my children would just obey.
- I wish we had more money.
- If only my job were easier.
- If only I were skinnier like_____.
- I wish I could stay home with my kids.
- I wish I didn’t have to work.
- If only my husband helped out more around the house.
- I wish I would’ve chosen a different career.
- The list goes on….
When I started dwelling on these thoughts, my stay in this land become like a second home. I began wishing I could set up house in this land instead of my own. I realized this was not only dangerous to myself, but also to my family. How could I stop traveling to this land?
I Made A Decision To Leave
When you return from traveling, there are things you have to do when you return. Laundry, dishes, catching up on work you missed, and other things need tending to. If you don’t tend to the things that are left undone, they pile up and eventually seem impossible to fix.
That’s what traveling to the Land of “If Only” is like. Only, the things that need tending to are far more important than laundry and dishes. I realized that while I was away in this land, my relationships suffered. My absence from my family has caused a rift that was hard to mend. But it was not impossible. That’s when I chose to leave and strive never to return.
I Chose Contentment
The journey to the Land of “If Only” is quick but not without consequences. I am constantly reminded of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:11 when he writes, “for I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content.” He endured many trials and tribulations and still, he strived for contentment because he knew that he could “do all things through Christ” (Phil. 4:13).
I Focus On Truth
When I start to travel down the road of discontentment, I focus on these verses and on Philippians 4:8 which states:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
The Land of “If Only”does not hold truth, goodness, or beauty like it promises. What it promises is enticing, but it will never last. The promises of Christ are truth, goodness, and beauty. They are everlasting.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”—Romans 15:13
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”—Isaiah 40:31
Discontentment happens when we focus on ourselves. The Lord has placed you in the place He wants you for His glory. The moment you desire something other than His plans for you is the moment you begin your journey to the Land of “If Only”.