The BBC has a series of article on their “Future” website that ask the question “What if?”. They explore questions like “What if we knew when people were lying?” “What if all guns disappeared”, “What if the world went vegetarian” and the best one written in November 2018 asks “What if the Spanish flu struck in 2018?”. You can read it here and see if they got it right!
I think it’s interesting they put that “What if” question on the “Future” part of their website because whenever the world has taken a step forward, it has been because someone looked at the status quo and asked that question. “What if we combined an iPod with a phone?” was the question that someone in Apple once asked when you were using a Nokia and asking “what if I threw this in the bin?”.
Sometimes I sit in my office at home too long, and I get closed in by my own limitations. I get preoccupied with my own agenda or my own failure to find the right word to write. I get stuck in the status quo. But when I go outside, I get to see just how big the world is, and how small I am, I try to imagine what God is doing in His big world. Sometimes I just walk on the beach and feel the fresh air blowing over me and breath in deeply and for some reason I don’t understand, things just come into my head. They usually are the answer to a “what if” question. Perhaps this is just the beach or the sea air or something else but I believe it actually come from a better perspective. It’s an outside perspective on things – thinking outside the box.
When I think about the great advances in my world it’s always been about answering the “What if” question. From the bloke who invented the wheel to Sir Henry Parks the father of federation in Australia there have always been people dissatisfied with the status quo who wanted to find a better way.
A few weeks ago I was visiting some Roman ruins in the ancient world and saw the thousands of stone blocks they used to make into buildings. Now those blocks were quite heavy. Some of them were very large. So, I began to wonder how on earth did they move those blocks from the quarry? I could see the quarry was a few kilometres off in the distance, to the building site so carrying one of these would require some significant effort.. Then I came across this device..
As you can see it consists of two wooden wheels. Each wheel had a square hole cut into it into which the stone block sits in very neatly. As they pulled it along the wheels turned as well as the stone block. I think this is brilliant engineering from 2000 years ago. They didn’t need to lift the stone block up very much and certainly didn’t need to slide it onto a flat surface. It just fitted into the wheels and off they went.
So, how long since you asked that question about your life? “What if” you made some changes to the way you did things? “What if” you changed those bad behaviours and swapped them for something good? “What if” you apologised to someone you’ve hurt – not expecting them to forgive you but so that you could feel the freedom that comes from you doing what you can to bring reconciliation? “What if” you just decided to eat a little less each meal and cut out the snacks? “What if” you helped your granddaughter figure out the point of Algebra?
It seems to me, there’s thousands of questions we can ask about the way we live. There are lots of places we can make our world a better place. It may never have an impact as big as inventing the wheel or the iPhone but it can bring about a much more positive future for you. It can bring about restored relationships and restore pride to your life. It can be the antidote to shame or guilt that seems to stick to you and wake you in the night.
But there is another “what if” question that can change your life for the better as well. That’s the question “What if God is real?” You see the bible tells us that Jesus had a position in the universe that was higher than any other. He was with God and He was God. So, He was the top of the tree and one day He asked the question “What if I gave up this position and came into the world as a baby, then grew up and eventually gave up my life so people could find forgiveness and freedom and live better lives?”
You could, of course, ask the opposite question “What if God is not real”. But which of these questions will drive you to live a better life? Now I know a lot of good people. Some fall on either side of this question but the ones that live the very best life, the ones who make the biggest contribution to the world around them, the ones who follow Jesus selfless example are the ones most likely to tell me they wouldn’t have it any other way. They also will tell me if they are wrong, they haven’t lost too much because if they look at their contribution to the world, it still brings great satisfaction.
So, friends maybe it’s time to ask the question yourself. “What if I lived a better life?” “What if I made a few changes?”. I think we can all do better than the status quo if we decide to make our future better than our present.