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    by Susan McGrath

The What-Ifs
Date Posted: November 6, 2004

I love poetry and "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, which I first read in junior high English, is still a favorite. It touts the merits of walking the straight and narrow and at the end says "I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference".

Sometimes it does make all the difference, and the difference seems to be less money or a less glamorous job or even a relationship ended with regret. When choosing between two paths, it's hard not to play the "what if" game.

I applied to two colleges. The one I attended was farther from home, but I gained great experience in the field I planned to work in. I made wonderful friends. I cost my boyfriend hundreds and hundreds of dollars in gas money!

When I graduated from college I received two job offers. I chose one in the area where my father had grown up and where I had some roots. It was farther from home than the other job and again, cost my boyfriend (yep, same guy) hundreds of dollars in gas money.

When our family was ready to move to a larger home, we narrowed it down to two choices. The house we chose was in a neighborhood my husband loved and we have wonderful neighbors and a beautiful view. But the house needed some immediate, unanticipated work, costing my husband (still the same guy) and I thousands of dollars!

But what if . . .I had gone to another university? Would I be rich and famous now?

What if . . .I had taken that job closer to home (which intimidated me because it included sports editing and football coverage)? Would I have stayed in that community and lived a different life?

What if . . . we had chosen the other house on our "A" list? Would we have it paid for by now, but be missing the true neighborhood experience?

And I can't help but wonder what if . . . God had gotten tired of forgiving the Israelites and decided they weren't worth preserving? (In "modern, civilized" society similar groups have been persecuted or killed off to make room for political agendas.)

What if . . . Mary had felt inconvenienced and invaded rather than blessed and favored at the opportunity to give birth to the Messiah? (In America today she would have "the right to choose". After all, it's her body!)

What if Paul had decided his suffering, imprisonment and persecution were too much to bear for anyone's sake? (Current trends would have him file a lawsuit, write a book about his trials and go on tour as a motivational speaker.)

It's hard to remember sometimes that people throughout history, ancient biblical and modern, have played the "what if" game. We are told of many people in the bible who had doubts about God's plans for them. (Jonah's circumstances after running from God had to be worse than any "what ifs" he could imagine happening to him in Nineveh!)

I may second-guess myself, but I need to trust God's lead. After all, when it comes to the
what-ifs, I'll never know the answers and in some cases I don't want to. But God guides my decisions if I seek Him, and the what-ifs can be put to rest.

God has never had to ask what if -- He knows the outcome and has chosen the right path for me. I just have to take it!

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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