I love alternate universes. Sliders, when it was on the air, was probably my favorite show. I loved the first season in particular, when it really focused on the “what if” premise before jumping of the rails second season with the “what movie is popular now?” theme they seemed to develop.
One of my favorite episodes of Star Trek is “Parallels,” where Worf goes shifting between universes about every five minutes. It gave us a great cameo by Will Wheaton as well as some fun looks at what could have been.
A favorite comic series was Exiles, which was about a bunch of X-Men righting cosmic wrongs in alternate realities. I had a hard time finding a picture of the cast, so if you’re interested you can Google it. 🙂
And of course, we can’t forget Spock with a goatee. We have gotten so much traction off that one instance of facial hair. So, hats off to you, Mr. Spock.
(And of course this isn’t even mentioning the works of Harry Turtledove, alternate-reality expert extraordinaire.)
Why is it that I love alternate realities? I think I love the idea of exploring what might of been. Of course, in my head, most might-have-beens focus on my own life. What if I had been less stupid? What if I never committed that sin? What if I committed more of that sin? What if I had never asked her out? What if I asked that person out instead? What if I’d pursued this career or that career instead of being a pastor? What if I’d never roomed with Brandon in college? What if Mike had asked the woman who would become my wife out when they first met? (Yeah, that one probably wouldn’t have ended well…)
I feel safe in assuming everyone asks questions like this at some point. I mean, if Friends dedicated an entire episode to the concept, you know it’s relatively mainstream.
The danger of asking these questions is the allure of other worlds. “Wouldn’t it be better if…?” And that question is a dark pit. Ask that question enough times, and this universe will not satisfy you. What you have will not be enough. Your fantasies will become impossible dreams that only frustrate, because they are utterly impossible.
Have you fallen for that trap? Let me give you a ladder to get out. Are you ready for this ladder?
Any universe you could possible imagine, any “what if” that could invade your mind, they are all inferior to the reality in which you live.
How can I say something like that? Is it possible? Are our imaginations so warped by sin that any alteration to reality we could envision will make it worse? Do I think so little of our imaginations that we can’t picture something better than what it is?
Well, when it comes to alternate realities… yes. I do think that. And you know why?
God’s imagination is bigger than mine.
God, in his all-knowing amazingness, imagines every possible universe. He picks out the tree of possibilities and examines every single branch. He sees, for instance, the reality where you were born as a Roman senator. He also sees the reality where you won the lottery. He glances over the universe where you were the other gender as well as the branch-cluster where you were smarter, stronger, better-looking and richer. He searches through this thick bush of possibilities and plunks you down in the absolute best universe.
Don’t believe me? “For God works all things for the good of those who love him.”
You may have messed up your life through a dumb choice. God made the fallout of that choice the best set of consequences they could be, hands down. God saw how having more money would mess you up. He gave you the exact right amount — not too little, not too much. When the time was just right, God sent you into the world. Just like that.
So, it can be fun to wonder “what if.” It can be addicting. But don’t lose sight of this truth: You’re already living in the best universe, one hand-selected by God for you. So be content here. This is the best place for you… and this is the best you for this place.