What Could Go Wrong?

Last Saturday evening I was with a bunch of fellow North American Baptist pastors and wives at a retreat at the Miracle Lodge.  The lodge is a great meeting place on the grounds of the Ironwood Springs Christian Camp near Stewartville, MN.

There were about a dozen of us outside enjoying the crisp fall air, while sitting around the campfire.  We had enjoyed the day together and had gotten pretty comfortable with one another.  I think it was Greg Henson, the new Sioux Falls Seminary president that got the ball rolling with stories about the past.  It wasn’t long and we were sharing all the dumb things we did that God had to save us from.

After a couple of stories, a common question began being inserted into about every tale.  And that question was, “What could go wrong?”  Let me give you a few examples of how it went.
“The leaves were wet and wouldn’t burn, so I dowsed the pile with gasoline…” and then someone popped in with the question, “What could go wrong?”
Here’s another…”we had our friend lay stiff as a board and we picked him up by his outstretched hands and his feet and we carried him over the campfire…” “What could go wrong?”
Or, “they stacked the wood for the campire about 4 feet tall…” “What could go wrong?”

As I think about it now, I realize this is a really good question to ask before you do something stupid.  Although for young men in the 20’s, I”m not sure it would matter.  If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to think with you about how this question might apply in areas that are even more important than physical safety.

In our spiritual walk:  “I’m too busy to stop and pray today… What could go wrong?”, Or “my  life is too busy to spend time with God’s people worshiping him… What could go wrong?”
In our relationships:  “I’m too frustrated to be nice with my spouse… What could go wrong?”  “Work is too hectic for me to get to my son’s game… What could go wrong?
In our finances:  “I want this too much to save for it… What could go wrong?”  “I can’t afford to give generously to the God who has given all this to me… What could go wrong?”
In our witness to others:  “I don’t have the time, energy or the skill to tell someone about Jesus… What could go wrong?”

With some reflection and openness to God’s leading, this question could make us stop and think about what we’re about to do and think again about the long-term consequences of the daily choices we make.

Now, this question could also be used by some to keep them from stepping out in faith.  We might choose safety and security, always fearful of moving forward because something terrible could happen.  But even that has consequences.  And that is why we need God, the Word and other believers to help us discern what is wise.

So, the next time you’re tempted to pour gas on wet leaves, or pour an unkind comment on an argument with your wife, ask yourself, “What could go wrong?”

Here’s your comment assignment:  I’d like to hear when you should have asked this question.  Or about a time when you did ask it and it stopped you from doing something stupid or destructive.  Thanks for reading and sharing.



  1. Isn’t this just the day to day issue about the Lordship of Jesus in our lives? Whenever we are tempted with the thought that a decision is a no-brainer, that’s exactly when we do need to seek Father’s face to allow Him to lead & guide us. It reminds me of Joshua 9:14-15, “So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.” So, What could go wrong?


  2. Wow you took me back to my youth. Not a pretty picture. What could go wrong, normally did — apart from Christ.

    That’s why prayer and reading the Word anchors every day now … because everything could, and usually does, go wrong in life. I love being in God’s control in these tumultuous days.


    1. Thanks Marlene. I’m glad you can relate. So true on the importance of prayer and the Word. I would also add the “community of the saints” also. We need people who will remind us of the question, “What could go wrong?”


  3. Haha…as a lawyer I think that asking the “what if” question is 75% of what I do, and that spills over to my personal life, too. This is a great reminder to apply the “what if” question to my spiritual life as well. Thanks for this good thought.


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