Thursday, February 5, 2009

IF


I remember a powerful poem from my childhood readings. It is entitled simply -

"If"
by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Little word. Big meaning.
Here is how the word appears in today's reading.*

"If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you'll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from, but you're special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.'
This is what I want you to tell the People of Israel." (Exodus 19:5,6)

Had it ever hit you how conditional God's promises are?

If.

IF you listen obediently.
IF you keep my covenant.

The fork in the road between blessing and curses is the little word "IF"






*If you are just joining us, I am reading through the Bible this year off of www.Biblegateway.com using the chronological sequence, and in the version called "The Message."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was wonderful to be reminded of such a beautiful list of how to live a life…let’s send it to Obama…it sounds like one of his speeches!