Regret… the word immediately assaults your senses, doesn’t it? Thoughts automatically turn back in time to the things you wish you had or hadn’t done, and you find your emotions swirling down into the black pit of depression. There’s no way you can read this word and feel happy and joyous… it’s one of those noun/verbs that weighs in your memory/brain/heart/pit of your stomach like a cold stone of death with an epitaph that reads “If only... woulda/shoulda/coulda.”
I don’t think the death reference is overly dramatic, because it can sicken your heart, kill your mood and absolutely paralyze your emotions and future. It lingers like a quiet but deadly cancer and eats away at your soul… day by day, as you invite it in to live with you it grows and eventually smothers all the areas in your life.
We ALL have Regrets… we’ve all blown it in the past. There is not one person I know who doesn’t look back and wince or cry or hang their head over some (or many) unwise/ungodly actions or decisions. We’ve all stumbled and sinned… sadly, often making the same mistakes over and over again. It’s no wonder the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.
There it is – Regret. Looming larger than life, relentlessly whispering your failures into your ear, kicking you when you’re down, reminding you and chiding you and laughing as you writhe in pain and remorse and hopelessness until you’re not even sure you can live with yourself and your past. Regret gleefully points to the consequences of your actions and tells you that you can never go back, that your actions have forever destroyed yourself, others and any sense of future.
Have I got it pretty accurate so far?
Whenever I hear Regret playing his deadly tune as he invites me back into his dance of demoralizing death (any wonder why they call it dancing with the devil?), I have a choice. I can let him in, take his hand and be dragged across the shard-infested dance floor of a past I cannot change, allowing myself be bloodied and shredded and unable to walk.
I can run, walk or crawl to Jesus.
Yes, I’m sickened by myself and my actions and the fact that I can’t change any of it, even though I would give anything to go back and choose differently. I’m ashamed and guilt-ridden and sure what I’ve done makes me useless to Christ and myself and everyone around me… forever. I’ve bought into the lies of the enemy (via his number one boy Regret) and now I’m useless.
NO! Even when I can’t face Jesus, even when I want to run hiding from Him like Adam and Eve did in the Garden so long ago, He seeks me out with arms wide open, gathering my sobbing soul into His arms and reminding me that He already knows everything. He knows my sin, He knows what I’ve done… even as a believer… (God, even after I’ve worn the name of Christian yet shamed You after You’ve saved me? “Yes… child… even then, especially then.”). He knows my failures. In fact, He knew exactly what I was going to do long before it happened – He knew as He hung on that cross, and He still chooses to love me and believe in me and offer me a hope and a future. It wasn’t a surprise to Him… He knew then, He knows now and still He offers forgiveness and cleansing. Even when my choices have caused the damage and loss of relationships and changed the path of my life, He whispers that He will never leave me or forsake me… in spite of myself. He reminds me that if I confess my sins to Him, He will cleanse me from all unrighteousness and wash them away as far as the East is from the West. He will restore to me the joy of my salvation, and give back to me the years that were destroyed.
What do I do? First, I believe the truth Christ tells me, and choose to listen to Him. I confess (1 John 1:(9). I ask Him for wisdom in how to deal with my past, my present circumstances and the future (James 1:5). If there is anything I can do/have control over to remedy what has happened, take action (Matthew 5:23-24). Forgive whoever else needs to be forgiven, but especially, forgive myself (Ephesians 4:31-32). Oooo… forgive myself? Am I not the one who royally screwed the situation up to begin with? Yep. But that’s where grace and mercy comes in. Christ has washed away the blame with His blood. Now granted, others may assist Regret in his barrage of blame and delight in reminding me again and again of my sins, but that’s not in my control. What is in my control is my choice of how to respond– to react and go back into Regret’s arms, or to trust God and move forward in His strength. He will give me wisdom on how to handle today, the now of my life and will not only do damage control but will turn the ashes into beauty, working it together miraculously into good (Isaiah 61:3; Romans 8:28)
It’s time to wipe the tears away, to learn and then to move on into the life God has planned for you. Regret is all about destruction – God is all about restoration. This is the God of resurrection power! He can raise the dead, so surely He can raise our lives, mend the brokenness, restore our hope… and our future (Jeremiah 29:11). Trust Him… ask Him to work in the hearts of those who have been wounded and then leave it in His hands and go about your Father’s business, cleansed and fit for His duty. He’s got wonderful things planned for you, but you can’t pursue them by looking back in the rear view mirror… it’s time to go into God’s future for you – full throttle!
So the next time Regret pounds at your door spewing lies to drag you back down into the pit determined to steal your future, remember you belong to Christ, and ask Him to get the door… and give Regret a taste of his own medicine!
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