Thursday, March 10, 2022

Consider the "What ifs?"


 A few years ago I did a devotional on this site entitled What If? I want us to revisit this question today because life is full of “What if’s” and we have all played mind games where this is the central question:

"What if I hadn’t married my husband?”                                        “What if I hadn’t had children?”

   What if I had taken that other job?”   -  “What if he had gone to the doctor sooner?”

I want us today to apply some “what if’s” to the stories of two individuals in the Bible and consider how different their lives could have been. The first individual that comes to mind is Abraham, whom we know as the father of the Jewish nation as well as all true Christ believers, (Romans 4:11). His story begins in the eleventh chapter of Genesis. We learn that Abraham, (known as Abram until God changed his name), was told by God to leave his birth family and country and go to a place that God would show him. He was also told that he would be the leader of a great nation and that all the families of the earth would be blessed because of him. Genesis 12:4 says this, “So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him. . .”  But what if he hadn’t departed. He was childless, with no hope for children through his wife, he had no idea where God was sending him, and he was leaving everyone and everything familiar to him. What if he had decided the risk was too great to trust God for the seemingly impossible. Would a Jewish nation have ever been established? Would Abraham and Sarah have ever had a son? Would God have just abandoned His idea of establishing a Jewish nation?

The next individual is introduced to us in the second chapter of Joshua. Let me summarize her story. Her name is Rahab, often referred to as Rahab the harlot, and she gave lodging to two Israelites who were spying out the land in which she lived and they planned to occupy. Word reached the King about the whereabouts of these two men and he sent word to Rahab to bring the men out. But she defied the King’s order and hid the men instead. Before she helped Joshua’s men escape, she extracted a promise from them that she and her family would not be killed when the Israelites destroyed their city. 

What if she hadn’t defied the King’s order and these men had been killed? Would this have put enough fear in the Israelites to just abandon their attempts to enter the land God promised them? What if the king had Rahab killed for hiding the men? What if the scarlet cord that she hung out to identify her apartment fell to the ground and was no longer visible and she and her family were killed?

            Now, I want us to look at the story of a modern day example of a “What if?” story. In 1988 Dotti Ackerman was newly widowed, living in New Jersey and had been challenged by her pastor to start a ministry to widows when she shared with him her loneliness and feelings of despair at the thought of rearing a teen-age son on her own. So she stepped out in faith and began having meetings in the back room of a local diner. In 2012 when she found herself again a widow, she was the director of a large ministry, meeting in a local country club crossing denominational lines, with half being Roman Catholic. Because her now grown son was living in Florida and wanted Dotti closer to him and her grandchildren, Dotti felt that God wanted her to make the major move to Florida. Her pastor, the same above-mentioned pastor,
questioned her decision to move. Why would she leave success to have to start over in an unknown community, with no local church to back her, and knowing no one? Why indeed. Her wise pastor wanted her to ask these questions and make her decision based on God’s leading. Dotti felt that God was leading her and she made the move to Florida, with her Pastor’s blessing.

            Dotti encountered difficulty finding a pastor who would allow her to use his church building, she had to navigate the road of communication to get the message out about the ministry, she had to do many things on her own for which she had previously received help from her church, and she had no financial backing. But, she persevered and today the Florida chapter of Friends Needing Friends is celebrating its 10th birthday.

            You are capable of asking the “What if?” questions yourself. But, I’ll start you out:
  • What if Dotti decided it was too difficult to move from the only area in which she’d ever lived?
  • What if, when arriving in Florida, she just decided her ministry days were over and retired?
  • What if discouragement got the best of her and she decided it just wasn’t worth the trouble?
HAPPY 10th ANNIVERSARY to the Florida chapter of Friends Needing Friends. It is a joy to see your radiant faces each month. You are a vibrant testimony of faithfulness to God’s calling. Thank you, Dotti, for following the call of God on your life.

Ladies, taking that first step is going to be the hardest part of the process in fulfilling God’s mission for your life. I encourage you to take that first step in anticipation of what God can do for and through you. Don’t live your life, only to come to the end asking yourself what if questions:
  • “What if I had shared Christ with my neighbor?”
  • “What if I had encouraged my grandchildren to attend church?”
  • “What if I had chosen to forgive that difficult relative?
  • “What if I had . . .?”
            May God shower you with his grace and mercy in the coming year.
Message by Shari Hervold

           From the desk of Dotti Ackerman
           Founder & Director of  F.N.F. Widow Ministry, Est. 1988
           A special video was put together as a reminder of some of our monthly program over the past 10 years. God has truly bless this  FNF widow ministry.  -   Just click and enjoy! 

Wow! 10 - 7 - or 5 years ago - have we changed! (For the good - Amen!)