At this moment, you have an infinite amount of possible futures. A myriad of choices and thoughts could run through your mind in the next 15 seconds. They determine your next 15 and then the next and the next.
Do you leave your computer to get a snack? Does that make you want to run later that day? Or do you stay put? Let your eyes drift shut for a nap?
Little inconsequential moments that determine the overall big picture of your day, your week, and eventually, your life. And at some points, you just look back and wonder “what if?”
Twenty-one days ago, I was involved in a motor vehicle/bicycle crash. I was not at fault and was not injured, but one person at the scene had to be airlifted to the hospital. Fifteen seconds and it was over. Three lives forever changed by what had occurred. And it only took 15 seconds. What if I had gone a different route home? What if I had managed to blow my horn? What if the bike had stopped at the intersection? What if? What if?
Fifteen seconds was all it took. Fifteen seconds I would do over if I could.
There are no answers really. It happened and now it is simply part of the past. So how do you move on when those same 15 seconds keep replaying in your head like bad scene from a movie?
15 seconds. What if?
All these “what ifs” serve to do is illustrate the past. It cannot be changed, for time is as unyielding as the Ten Commandments carved in stone. Time is the universal equalizer of the long years of life. It does not matter how clever or resourceful you may be, you cannot beat Time. She chips away at the resolve of good intentions and preys on regrets thought of in the dark watches of the night, all the while knowing that you will get up and face another day. You will stare her in the face and continue on.
The next 15 seconds of your life are waiting.
The next 15 seconds could change you forever.
However, no matter what they hold, the Lord knows the number of your days and has a great plan for your life regardless of your past. Jeremiah 29:11 clearly says, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Even in hard times, even when regret threatens to overwhelm you and guilt weighs down your feet and fear paralyzes you from moving forward, do not lose heart. Lift your eyes to the heavens, from whence comes your help. The Lord Almighty loves you with an everlasting love and has etched your name onto the very palm of His Hand. Yahweh, the one true God of our forefathers, could no less forget you than He could His Son. You are more precious to Him than all of His glorious creation. The road you must walk in life will be littered with stones and roots that you trip over. You will fail spectacularly. But you will also get back up.
What if you could redo your last 15 seconds?
Chances are, it wouldn’t change much and that’s perfectly fine. But every once in a while, you get the odd 15 seconds that change a life. Those are the seconds that count. Those are the times of testing that show you what you’re made of, what your faith looks like. Will you have the faith to cast the mountain of your hardship into the sea? Do you believe that God still holds you in the palm of His hand?
“And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Twenty-one days after a 15-second living nightmare, I have just begun a three-year journey to becoming a physical therapist.
My next 15 seconds will be spent studying. And the subsequent 15 seconds for hours still to come.
My next 15 seconds are setting me on a path to facilitate healing and wholeness in people I have not even met.
My next 15 seconds will change lives. Not because I can change the past. Not because I can beat time. And not because those seconds will involve something out of the ordinary. But because there is a reason and a purpose for everything I do even if I can’t see the big picture. Because I have an all-powerful Abba Father who will never give up on me and sees and knows every hurt and joy I have in life. And because I won’t go down the path of “What If?”
The past is done. I let the wounds bleed and learn from the scars. And always remember that the time I am given is valuable. Even if it is just the next 15 seconds.
And the road goes ever on,