Have you ever sat down and thought, "What if I had done this?" "What if this was done differently?" "What would have happened if I would have only changed this, thought this, wore this, said this?" Everyone has. It's a part of life, a common human trait that makes us all stop and think, "What if?" What if I wore the clothes they're wearing, would they like me? What if I lifted more, would I make the team? What if I stood up for myself, would the bullying stop? What if I told someone this secret, would it make me feel better?To us, these questions may be important. After all, it's part of being human to want to fit in, to want to be well-liked and accepted. Popularity never hurt anyone, either, and so these questions make us think of what we could have done in the past to better our future.
We shouldn't think like that. I have, I'll be the first to admit it - and it sucks, to put it simply. Only, my "What if?" was a different sort.
What if I hadn't played the part of a Christian? What if I had lived what I believed? What would have happened then?
One of my favorite worship songs is Matthew West's "Going Through the Motions." The lyrics of the chorus are the best part:
"I don't wanna go through the motions, I don't wanna go one more day without Your all consuming passion inside of me, I don't wanna spend my whole life asking, "'What if I had given everything,That was my "What if?" question. What if I had lived so that Christ was reflected in me, instead of living so I reflected the world?
instead of going through the motions?'"
Imagine middle school. Do you remember how that went? Everyone meets new people, and there you are again, the bottom of the totem pole. In elementary school, by 5th grade, you were the boss of the school. You could do what you want (hypothetically; in retrospect, there wasn't anything that was that great about being the oldest at the Ridge.) and you earned the respect of the younger kids (once again, not really, they hardly seemed to realize that fifth graders should obviously get first dibs on the swings and when it was their turn for recess, your kickball games stopped for the older kids.), plus you were excited about moving up to the middle school the next year. In my district at the time, there were 2 different elementary schools - one for the kids in town, and one for the country hicks. I fell into the latter category. In elementary school, I believed in Jesus - sang the songs, went to church, and had a Bible somewhere in my room buried under the Barbies and games and other toys. Then I moved up to middle school. Time for a change. There were new friends to make, popularity ladders to climb, and cute boys - lots and lots of cute boys. I'll be the first to admit that I didn't care about my faith at this time - I was sick of church, I wasn't yet in youth because I was a young kid (youngest in the grade, just about) and so I had no support system to get me through it all. I put God on the back burner.
I lived life like I wanted throughout middle school. I won't go into all the details yet - another post, I'm sure, I hear ya, God - but pretty much, for now, know that I wasn't living the Christian life. I wasn't doing drugs, or having sex, or any of that stuff - I just didn't live with God's light shining through me. I was going through the motions.
Enter J. J was a kid who I had grown up with - he went to the same elementary school as I did, and once in a while he would come to my church when we were old enough to be in youth. My best friend dated him in seventh grade, and boy, were they cute. For a while, starting in the middle of seventh grade probably, I had felt like God was trying to tell me something, to share Him with others, like J. I wasn't listening to Him then, obviously - going through the motions, remember - so I brushed it off. J came to my church before anyways, he knew who God was. It was his choice whether or not to believe in Him. He didn't need me to live as an example and try to help anyone, let alone J.
It was almost the last day of school, and the day was gorgeous. The next day was a day off for some reason, and then the last day of school was right after that. J and I rode the bus together, and we sat next to each other. We were talking and J said how he was going to go home and relax, then sleep all of the next day. I said how I had my brother's baseball game that night and all I had was youth the night after. I didn't push the youth thing; J wasn't one to talk about God, I had learned that after he had had a discussion with another kid on the bus one day. As we pulled up to my house, I got up and turned to J, saying I hope he had fun sleeping his day away the next day and that I would see him on the last day of school. He smiled, saying, "Almost eighth graders, yeah buddy! Top dogs!" I laughed and gave him a thumbs up, getting off and walking to my house.
It was the last time I saw him.
That day, about an hour after I said goodbye to him, J got on his bike to get the mail at the post office across the street. The road was empty; it was only about 3:30 or so and not many people were on the road in the small country town he lived in. He started to drive across - and was hit by a car. The woman was, apparently, drunk and hit him. I don't know if that's true. I don't know how J didn't see her. I don't know if she stayed or if she ran. All I know is, J died that day in the street. He didn't get to sleep in the next day, he didn't get to see what was in the mail, he didn't get to be a "top dog" eighth grader.
I didn't get to tell him about Jesus.
My "what if?" has always, always, always been about J. What would have happened if I had told J about God? He may have shut me down, and I would have had to drop it for a while. But what if he had, instead, shut up and listened? What if he had wanted that? What would have happened if I had had the guts to tell him, to share what I believed, to have lived how God wanted me to so that I was shining with His light?
This has been a pretty negative first post. It's been a pretty crappy first post, really. I haven't included a Bible verse like usual, I haven't included some witty tie-in to something that relates like I have previously. I just have this. This story, my "What if?", and the song.
This is your NR challenge for this, the first part of my life. Don't go through the motions. Don't spend another day without God's passion and light shining through you. Tell others about God, and what He's done for you. I didn't, and now I think, "What if I had?"
Share with someone. Share without being scared. Share. You may not get another chance too.
Are you in?