I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14 NIV)
I don’t think there is a person alive that doesn’t have some regrets about a decision or decisions they have made and that wouldn’t like a do-over or a second chance.
The regrets, what ifs and if only’s can keep me awake at night. Life hasn’t gone how I planned in some ways. Not according to my girlhood dreams anyway. Or the high ideals I had in my 20’s.
I see many homeless people everyday downtown where I work and I’m sure there isn’t a one of them that wouldn’t give anything for a do-over of some point in their lives. But again, I doubt there is a single person walking around that feels like they have made every single perfect decision. Jesus is the only one who could have walked through life feeling that way. What an amazing feeling that must have been.
But, as the cliche goes, it’s what we do with the regrets that determines so much. Easier said than done. That is where the above mentioned Scripture comes in. Paul certainly did some things he regretted but he said that above all, he wanted to know Christ AND to do his best to forget the past and press on towards the future. For myself, that is not a one-time thing but something I have to do over and over because I keep bringing the past up in my mind and blaming the past rather than accepting it for what it is and moving on. I think doing those 2 things together makes a huge difference: Wanting to know Christ more as a result of the regrets and the if only’s and the what if’s because He was there with us during everything. During the poor choices or bad decisions. He knows every detail involved but He has an overall view of each of those events that we don’t have unless we ask Him for it. Once we can see those experiences/choices through His eyes, it really helps to forget the past and move forward.
Yes, we have to live with our choices and that is the bitter pill we have to swallow every day. I regret giving all those years to a system that wasn’t true. I regret a few decisions I have made in the last 16 years that have affected me physically and financially. I regret being so slow to see things and change things in relationships. I know there are people still in the meetings who look at me and tsk tsk and say things like “she got what she deserved” but I know I am forgiven and accepted in the Beloved.
One of the biggest obstacles for me was erasing the message I was taught all my life while in the meetings that God punishes us for our decisions forever. I’m not sure I even believed I was truly forgiven and that God had honestly forgotten my poor choice. That He sees everything through the eyes of restoration and renewal. Nothing we do or say catches Him by surprise. He is totally prepared to handle all our mess ups. I lived under the shadow of I have to try harder, be better, do more to somehow atone for what I did or said because I wasn’t taught that Jesus had already done everything to take care of all of my sin. God’s amazing ability to forgive and go on, which is called His Grace, was not preached at all. So it left me feeling depressed, not good enough at times, or else superior and judgmental of others who had made mistakes I hadn’t made. But once I stepped back and took in His Amazing Grace, I then totally wanted to make future decisions more prayerfully and carefully and be a better person on every level. That also is not preached in the meetings. They don’t believe in the Gospel of Grace because they think it means we can just do whatever we want and we will be forgiven because His grace is sufficient. The Apostle Paul wrestled with the same question and came to the conclusion, “God forbid!” I honestly do not know why the workers avoid that portion of scripture because God’s Grace is the most freeing message ever told. But they prefer legalism and control sadly.
Paul said he wanted to know the power of the resurrection and I do too. Bring new life to dead places, new hope to hopeless areas, new inspiration from painful memories. Jesus didn’t have regrets but He knew plenty of suffering in His life because of our messes so He knows what to do and He remembers how it feels. We have no reason to live under the weight of guilt and regret; doing so is a needless use of our energy. Do we believe His message? All of it? Dare we? YES! We dare!