Have you ever done anything you later regretted? If you haven’t, I’ve got enough stories to share so we can both have plenty. There was the time I slid a baseball bat into a pillow case while having a pillow fight with my brother – he wasn’t injured, but our refrigerator can’t say the same thing… Then there was the time in college I prank called a former teacher three or four nights in a row at 1:00 or 2:00 AM from my dorm room – not knowing those calls were traceable (I realized they were when the police showed up at my dorm room – this was before the invention of caller ID). These are pretty tame, I know, but I have plenty more that maybe aren’t quite so tame. I’ve hurt people I love deeply. I’ve had moments of weakness where I went against my better judgement.
Now for a second question: have you ever not done something you later regretted? You know what I’m talking about. The times you know you should’ve done something or said something (that little nagging voice inside – which I’ve found many times is the Holy Spirit), but for whatever reason – you did’t do it. You wanted to do it, maybe you even intended to do it, but either fear, or busyness, or distractions, or procrastination, or….. bottom line – you didn’t do it. It could be as simple as a phone call or as involved as a career change.
One that comes to mind for me is about a man named Lee. In 2006, we celebrated the birth of Nixon. Our joy soon turned to worry as his oxygen levels were’t where they needed to be. Long story short, we couldn’t hold or touch him for three days, then he ended up being in NICU for nine days total – quite possibly the most exhausting nine days ever. We went back and forth to the hospital – singing to and talking to our little miracle from God.
So where does Lee come in? Lee was a young man who had twins in NICU at the same time. He lived in Alabama (the twin’s mother lived in Oklahoma). Whenever the twins were born prematurely, he left everything, including his job, so he could be with his children in NICU. I got to know him a little bit through conversations in the waiting rooms and the baby rooms. One of my AHA moments during our NICU stay was God speaking to my heart about “looking for opportunities to glorify Him” in the midst of difficult situations. One night, as I was laying in the floor of a resting room, half awake - half asleep, I heard Lee talking with someone. I sensed God nudging me to go out and say something very simple to him… it was something like this – “The love that caused you to leave Alabama just to be with your children pales in comparison to the love God has for you – He would do anything for you and will always be by your side.”
Again, I knew Lee a little bit, so this wouldn’t be crazy weird, but it was still a little bit intimidating for me… I played conversations over and over in my head – “No, that’s dumb Glenn” or “You’re going to freak him out” – you know, those types of convos… as I was “arguing” with what God had placed in my heart, I heard Lee step onto the elevator… I got up, raced out to the lobby to try and catch him, but the door closed. I pushed the button to get the next elevator – but by the time I got to the bottom floor, he was no where to be found. I found out later from one of the nurses he was going back to Alabama to get some things in order and wasn’t sure when he’d be back. I’ve never seen or heard from Lee since…
Now – does that mean someone else hasn’t been able to reach out to Lee and I was his only chance? Of course not – but I know I missed an opportunity God placed right in front of me, and I regret it – even to this day. I’ve had many others – things I should’ve said or done for my wife and/or my kids (the main four persons I’m to love and minister to). Phone calls I didn’t make to a friend or acquaintance, only to find out later they were going through a rough time. Things I regret. Lottery tickets I didn’t buy (kidding).
Regret – a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done. (As stated above, I would also add to this definition something that hasn’t happened or been done).
So what do we do with regret? We can’t change the past. We can’t undo things we’ve done and we can’t go back and do things we failed to do. I believe we can repent and ask for forgiveness (from God and from others), which does a lot of good – really it does… but I think the other thing we do from regret is learn from it. We don’t let regret be a common, reoccurring pattern in our lives. In other words, don’t let one mistake lead to another.
So how do we keep this from happening? What’s the root cause behind regret? I know this may sound simple – but I believe it is the result from trading a future opportunity, outcome or result for a present comfort or desire. I stumbled across this passage last night, which is what compelled me to start writing now instead of next week – this is only a weekly blog ya know – and I wrote one just 2 or 3 days ago (but alas, I didn’t want to regret it later)
Hebrews 12:16 …Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal. 17 For you know that LATER, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected…
I have read this passage of scripture NUMEROUS times (Hebrews 12 has some great stuff in it – you should read it after you finish reading this) BUT, as I was reading it last night, the passage above jumped off the page and spoke directly to my heart – I love it when that happens – it’s almost like this book is alive and active… (Hebrews 4:12)
Brief history (Genesis 25:19-34) – Esau and Jacob were twins, but Esau was born first, which means he had the birthright. The birthright was a BIG DEAL at this time in history. It meant a double portion of the inheritance, but more importantly, it meant he would receive the blessing of the father and become the head of the family. We see that Esau, in a MOMENT of weakness/desperation, gave up his birthright for a bowl of stew. He even justified it… “I’m about to die (this was a tad bit of an exaggeration), so what good is a birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32).
So, what happened here, was Esau traded a future (and longer lasting) blessing for a present and immediate desire. In other words, he was so consumed by the present situation that it caused him to make a decision that would affect his entire future (and in this case – his kids, grandkids, great grand kids, and all the generations to come). All because he wanted a pot of stew. Now this sounds stupid – and we say, “I would NEVER do something like that!” But I would argue that I do (and maybe you do to) things like this almost every day! I try to find comfort or enjoyment in the moment – not taking the future into account. Scripture is full of reasons why we do this…
Hebrews 11:25 tells us about Moses choosing to “suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the short-lived pleasure of sin.”
James 1:14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
I could put many more on here, but I think you get the point. When left to our own vices, a lot of times we will make poor choices. Now the BEAUTIFUL thing is this – God is a God of forgiveness. God is a God of restoration. God is a God of reconciliation. God is full of Grace and Mercy…. and that list could go on as well. So what NOW shall we do??
Don’t let past regrets lead to future regrets!!!
And that is SO easy to do. We get to the place where we say, “I’ve gone too far; I’ve done (or not done) too much; God will never trust me again; God will never use me again; No one will believe me; I’ll just blow it again…” THESE ARE ALL LIES FROM THE PIT OF HELL (is that subtle enough??) The enemy would love for your regret to lead to more regrets, which will lead to more regrets, and so on and so forth… He does come to steal, kill, and destroy ya know…
but TODAY – THIS DAY – it’s a NEW DAY! Your past regrets don’t have to define you and/or your future. God has this great way of turning past regrets into future victories. A few more scriptures to meditate on…
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Hebrews 12:1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
So my encouragement for the day – understand we ALL have regrets. We ALL have things we wish we would’ve done or said differently. We are ALL a work in progress. The key is looking to Him – trusting He can take our regrets and give us beauty for ashes – because that’s what He does!
May God continue to be your treasure (Matthew 13:44-46)