What Others Say

Thank you for writing the article in Saturday's edition of New Castle News. It was very good and very interesting. You bring it all to light, making everything very simple and easy to understand. - Kathy L. - New Castle, Pennsylvania

Monday, September 26, 2016


It is one of the tiniest words:  two letters, one syllable.  But it is filled with enormous consequence and limitless potential. “If.” 

Rudyard Kipling caught the limitless potential of “if” in his poem:

If you can keep your head when all about you
 Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
  Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
  And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: ...

You probably know the rest of the poem.  Most of us memorized it in school. 

We are at one of those “if” moments in our nation as we consider the election of a President for the next four years.  The racial prejudice and unrest spilling into our streets challenge us with “if.”

James A. Michener commented on the power of this little word in his classic novel, Centennial.  He wrote, “If is a word of infinite intellectual significance, for it indicates actions not yet completed but with the possibility of alternate outcomes.”

We face “if” moments every day of our life.  Last week I met a stranger at a Brat Fest in Estes Park, Colorado.  We struck up a conversation about faith.  He told me his father died when he was 15 and he spent many years mad at God.  He wasted his life with drugs, alcohol and sex until 2003 when he gave his life to Christ.  Faith set him free from his addictions.

The word “if” implies we are no longer prisoners to previous patterns.  We have options. Jesus said, “If the son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36).

Every day we measure the consequences of “if.”   If a certain thing happens, then “this” will occur.  But, if something else takes place, then “that” will occur.  If I choose this path or this action, then “this” will be my destination and the result.  A thousand times in the smallest moments, we measure the consequence of “if.”  And, occasionally, we are faced with choices that will determine our destiny.  

The Bible challenges us with this tiny but powerful word: 

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles, 7:14)

“But if you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.  When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him.  For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.” (Deuteronomy 4:29-31).

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