I is for If
This small word can lead to big consequences. If you get distracted while slicing vegetables, you may cut your finger quite badly. If you balance on the top of a ladder without someone to spot you, you may learn a hard lesson about gravity. If you drive even a little bit too fast on Pennsylvania Avenue in Downingtown, you will get a speeding ticket.
We sometimes use this word to lay out important conditions: “If you want to get an ‘A’ in this class, you’ll need to study.” It’s also used for contingencies: “If there are only two wires, make sure you cut the yellow one first.” (It’s vital to pay close attention as soon as you hear the word ‘if’, especially if you’re hanging around with James Bond or Ethan Hunt.)
Sometimes the word keeps us up at night: What if my knee doesn’t get better? What if this cough turns out to be more than allergies? What if the grocery store runs out of toilet paper again?
But then there is what I call the Divine If. This is the ‘if’ of creativity and possibility, the ‘if’ of hope that inspires us to see in our future not the shadowy forebodings of our worst fears, but the radiant expectation of God’s most noble promises. This is the ‘if’ of the prophet Isaiah, who promised the people that “If you remove the yoke from among you. the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil. if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday . . . and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.”
Overwhelmed by feelings of futility, finality, or fatalism? In this season of expectation, God beckons us to the place where miracles happen. It is much closer than we know. We do not need camels to follow this star, which rests over the place in the depths of our own being where the Divine If meets our humble Yes.