"You are not your own. You were bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body". 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
It's a popular game these days -
What if Hero X had done action Y in this scene?
What if this story had taken this turn instead of that one?
Sometimes, we play this game about history.
What if Henry VIII's son with Catherine had lived?
What if Britain and France had maintained their rule over America?
What if the assassination that triggered the first world war had failed?
I once spent an amusing afternoon pretty well re-writing the history of the modern world that way - I guess that's why games like Civilisation have often proved so popular - want to see the outcome? Go to the next level of the game.
It's easy for this to all become just idle speculation, but theologically, there are some serious issues that the 'what if' question can cause us to address.
We all know the famous story of Moses meeting the Lord in the non-destructive flames of the burning bush, but most of us rarely consider the moment when he failed to recognise that same Lord in the rock he struck rather than spoke to, as he was commanded (see Numbers 20). We're told that Moses was as fit and healthy in his old age as in his youth (Deuteronomy 34:7), but because of that one act of disobedience, Moses dies without entering the promised land (see the opening of 1 Corinthians 10 to unpack the significance as to why). I found myself wondering what would have happened at the end if that had not of been the case. I suspect that rather than secretly being buried on Mount Nebo, he would have probably had the same manner of exit as Enoch (Genesis 5:24) or even Elijah (2 Kings 2) - that would certainly have caused a scene amidst the moment of entry into Canaan!
That consideration lead me on to another. Solomon was the wisest man who lived, and yet, in spite of all his magnificence, Solomon was cut down in his later years by his propensity to give in to his desire for female company, leading to him taking many pagan wives which spread idolatry in the land (1 Kings 11), causing his ways and resources to be divided between what was good and what was wicked.
When you read what was happening in the kingdom prior to this compromise (see chapters 6 through to 10), you find yourself asking what would have happened if Solomon hadn't of compromised in the manner he did? Just how great would the kingdom of Israel have become if he had continued to use his wisdom to guide it closer to God? It's a fascinating issue to ponder.
Most of us probably think we'll never reach anywhere near the manner of power and responsibility of such men (I tend to see myself somewhere in the region of Jacob the schemer, hoping I can work my way out of another fine mess I've put myself in!), but the comforting news for all of us is that if we trust in the rescuing God that gives us breath, we only have to have one moment fixed before us - when God makes His covenant with the father of the faithful, Abraham, in Genesis 15. Why that moment? Because there, God doesn't deal in 'what if's' of how well or badly we will do - he knows we'll mess up, so placing Abraham in a sleep, he walks through the fire and sacrifice and swears to keep the covenant for us all, and to fulfil its promises. That's why we have confidence that whatever tomorrow brings, including our failures, God is true, and has fulfilled His purposes in His beloved Son, which assures us the future is secure.
There's a "it is" to ponder on your bed tonight.
A small footnote...
Loved this piece on Mockingbird this week. As someone who often relishes the first (nudity) whilst desiring the other (sanctification), and who has enjoyed the odd spa visit, I thought this really spoke volumes about true righteousness being way above and beyond us.