If’s and Then’s

Yesterday while at lunch there was a young family in the next booth. They had a child with them who was becoming restless. I heard the parents encourage the child by saying, if you can sit still while we finish our meals, then you can get ice cream. They then went on to ask what kind of ice cream, and if he wanted sprinkles and all of the usual toppings. Soon, the child was calm and the parents ate in peace.

So often as parents, we use this tactic. If you eat all your supper, then you can stay up an hour later, if you behave for the rest of the month, then we can go do something special.

As adults we do this to ourselves, if I can save such and such amount, then I will be able to afford whatever, or if I lose so many pounds then I can fit into that dress/suit.

Today as I read my Bible, I was reading in 2 Chronicles chapter 7. It’s a familiar chapter and holds a verse that is often quoted. As I read the chapter, though, it occurred to me, that our God is a good Father. He was talking to Solomon in this chapter and I read familiar things.

2 Chronicles 7:12-18, ” Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 17 As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, and do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, 18 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man as ruler in Israel.” (NKJV)

In this passage God our Father gave Solomon goals to do things. This is all very positive. But, again, as the great Father our God is, He presented an opposing view also.

2 Chronicles 7:19-22, “But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, 20 then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.21 “And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and this house?’ 22 Then they will answer, ‘Because they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this calamity on them.’ ” (NKJV)

As parents we have also given warnings with the “if’s and then’s”. To me, what this means is, I have a choice as to what to do. With our children, we used to say, “Do you want to learn this the easy way or the hard way?” We would give them advice and let them choose. Sometimes they chose the hard way, which would give us concern as parents. Sometimes the hard way, although it is not the perfect way, does produce wisdom.

As I see it, I am presented with choices daily, will my if’s and then’s produce great results or will I once more learn the hard way?

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