The Power Of If. What Is Your What If?

On August 15, 1987 Howard Schultz was faced with the toughest decision of his life–whether or not to buy a small chain of coffeehouses with a strange name: Starbucks. Knowing what we know now, it seems like a no-brainer, but to Schultz the $3.8 million price tag seemed like a case of the salmon swallowing the whale. In his memoire, Pour Your Heart Into It, Schultz reflects on his what if moment.

This is my moment, I thought. If I don’t seize the opportunity, if I don’t step out of my comfort zone and risk it all, if I let too much time tick on, my moment will pass. I knew that if I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, I would replay it in my mind for my whole life; wondering: What if?

Howard Schultz made a defining decision to give up the safety net of his $75,000 a year salary to pursue his passion for all things coffee. Starbucks stock went public five years later, on June 26, 1992. It was the second most actively traded stock on the NASDAQ that day, and by the closing bell it’s market capitalization stood at $273 million, Starbucks now has 16,580 stores in 40 countries, with revenues topping $4.7 billion, and their 137,000 employees totals twice the population of Greenland. By conservative estimates, Starbucks sold 3,861,778,846 cups of coffee last year. And every sip of every drink started with what if.

Think about that for a moment–almost everything in life begins with a what if. Every achievement, from the Nobel Prize to the Oscars, begins with what if? Every dream, such as landing on the moon started with what if? Every breakthrough from the internet to iTunes began with what if? Every church and ministry started with what if?

Several years ago on a mission trip to the Philippines a friend of mine asked a large gathering of leaders this question, “what is the richest place on the planet?” One man raised his hand and said, “I think the richest place on the earth is the United States with all it’s resources and it’s economy.” My friend disagreed. Another person raised their hand and said, “I believe it is the oil fields of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.” My friend disagreed again and then added, “I believe the richest place in the world is the graveyard because it is the place where all the dreams and ideas that people never attempted is buried. All the books that were never written, all the businesses that were never started, all the ministries never conceived.” He made a great point because I’ve heard it said that most people live quiet lives of desperation.

So does God have a what if for you? I believe he does. I don’t believe he’s just called us to put in our time or just simply make it through life. I believe he has MORE for each of us in this season. Let me quickly give you three examples in scripture of people (and situations) who moved beyond their very real if only regrets and mindsets into some powerful what if possibilities that changed their world. I hope their stories encourage you to believe God greatly in your own lives.

1. You don’t understand, my circumstances are just too messed up for God to use me. This is exactly what David probably thought as he came into the city of Ziklag in I Samuel 30. The city was destroyed and his family, and the families of the other men, had been taken captive. They honestly didn’t know if they were alive for would ever see them again and they were so discouraged they were talking of stoning David. Yet David did something profound…he PRESSED into God and INVITED God into his circumstances (verses 6-8). It’s amazing what happens when we invite God into our circumstances. He has the ability to change and redeem even the most difficult things. What if God wants to work in your circumstances just like he did David? maybe God has a what if possibility in what looks like a if only regret.

2. You don’t understand, I’ve let God down and my dreams have died. I’m sure this is what Peter was thinking in John 21: 1-5 when he decided to go back to fishing. In that moment, Peter had dual regrets working in his life. The regret of failing God and the regret of seemingly seeing Jesus and his mission die. But as we continue to read chapter 21 we see that Jesus visits Peter in his discouragement and disillusionment and restores him and revives the dream. I’m so glad Peter didn’t stay in his regret but walked out of it to do great things for God. God has the ability to REDEEM our mistakes and REVIVE our dreams. What if God wants to move you beyond your failures and give you new dreams/new possibiliites?

3. I’m afraid to try because I’ll probably fail and I don’t want to get let down. Moses had these same thoughts. When God comes to him in Exodus 3 and 4 with a vision to see his people set free from bondage he responds with all the reasons why it couldn’t and shouldn’t happen. God, they won’t listen to me. God, this isn’t going to work. God, I’m the wrong guy. God, I don’t speak well. The amazing thing is that God has the ability to work in and through our lives despite our weaknesses. Actually, he works best though our weaknesses. Is God calling you to do something beyond your comfort zone that only he can accomplish? Probably. That seems to be the pattern of scripture.

So what is your what if? For April and I it was leaving Indianapolis and moving to Austin to start Renovate Church. We asked the question, what if God used us to plant a church that would not only help reach Austin but impact the world? We went through all the thoughts mentioned above, but we are so glad that we’re attempting it for as I read recently, “At the end of your life your greatest regrets won’t be the things you did but wish you hadn’t. Your greatest regrets will be the things you didn’t do but wish you had.” Go for it!

Dave and April

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