If Only…

When I lived in Namibia, I was pretty sure that life was perfect.

I had a home that was just right in a town that I loved. I spent my days hanging out with teenagers and talking about Jesus, walking with them as they came to know Him better. I was part of a church that had a heart to reach their community, and I had strong, godly friendships with other believers. I knew who I was in Christ and wanted nothing more than to serve Him in fulltime ministry for the rest of my life.

There was just one catch. “If only,” I would think, “I had someone to come home to at night.” I wanted a husband and a family so much that at times, I found myself discontent with where I was in that season, allowing my heart to attach too much significance and sufficiency to marriage and struggling against the truth that Christ alone was enough.

“If only God would send a husband to me,” I concluded, “I would be satisfied.”

And then… God did.

He sent me a godly husband who had a heart to serve Him with his entire life, whose gifts paired well with mine, who was already in ministry, and who loved the Lord and others with a pure heart. He was better than I could ever deserve and a true gift from God, and as I put all my hopes, expectations, and worth into being a godly wife to a man who was serving Him well, I knew that finally, I would be content.

Except not. Because soon, being a wife wasn’t fulfilling enough. “If only,” I would catch myself thinking, “I could be a mother.” And again, God was good and gave us more than we deserved, and I began to love the gifts more than the Giver, finding my sufficiency and happiness in them for a season, just like I had with being a wife. Then, as that failed to satisfy (because false idols will let you down), there were more “if only”s, one right after the other, over and over again.

I was reading a book the other day that talked about this. The author said that the problem is not that we seek pleasure and happiness here on earth — it’s that we’re pleased and happy by such insufficient things. We’re made to know God and to be fulfilled and satisfied by Him and Him alone. He created us to seek pleasure and to find that ultimate pleasure in Him! Instead, though, we find ourselves longing for cheap substitutes, substitutes that include the good and wonderful gifts that He gives us. As this author stated, we’re like kids playing in the dirt, trying to content ourselves with mud pies when God is offering us a banquet.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “if only,” isn’t it? You’ve heard it just like I have – God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Satan knows that our effectiveness in doing what God has purposed us to do – to display His glory and serve Him – is best diminished by whispering “if only” in our ears and calling us to be discontent. Let’s not listen.

If you’re finding your sufficiency and your worth in your husband, your children, your career, your hobbies, your church, your friends, or any of the good and wonderful gifts that God has given you, lay them down at His feet, acknowledging that they are but idols compared to knowing Him and loving Him. There are no “if only”s with Him because HE IS ENOUGH. If you have nothing apart from Christ, you have everything.

Reminding myself of this when it’s so, so easy to forget it…

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