Live with no regrets?
If you are a person striving toward any kind of goals in your life, or trying to become better at something, YOU WILL HAVE REGRETS. Could you have been a better mother or father? Could you have been a better husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend? Could you have put more time into school and gotten a better grade? Did you make some mistakes at work? Yah, I think most of us would like to have accomplished everything we do with excellence. One problem: we’re human.
It’s one thing to inspect the past to see what you could have done differently, but it’s another thing entirely to sit there and dwell on your shortcomings. Truth is, everyone fails at some point (some of us just don’t admit it as readily). This is one common denominator for all of us, and frankly, the reason we need the grace of Jesus Christ.
Paul has a good outlook in Philippians 3, even though he’s coming out of a context of his successes. His attitude is to look forward.
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.
Notice how he solidifies his convictions about his direction and where he’s going next. His model and target being Jesus.
Jesus refers to this principal of looking forward in Luke 9.
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
It’s kind of a confusing passage, so let’s give some context here. Jesus was usually talking to agricultural people. They knew what it took to run a plow. They knew that if you weren’t focused on where you were going, you’re plow line would go off course. Too much looking back distracts us from our next step.
The word “repentance” gets a bad rap. It’s usually associated with lament and pain. However, the literal translation of repent is “to turn around and walk the other way” or “changing your mind’s direction.” Repentance actually is a casting off of things that hinder and distract us. Some of it may be sin, some may be just unhealthy habits. Acts 3:19 talks about how repentance actually leads to refreshment (not refreshments, for you sugar junkies out there).
19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
It’s hard to make progress when you’re walking the wrong way (or just looking the wrong way). In some areas of our lives we truly have to “repent” in order to make progress in the right direction. I believe God is delighted in our trying, our attempts at be like Jesus. Like a child trying to walk for the first time, the Father’s heart wells up with excitement and joy. That’s how our heavenly Father looks at us as we dust ourselves off, get up, and take the next baby step.
So with those regrets from earlier, write them down and then throw them away, burn them, whatever. Regain a conviction about the direction you need to go. And keep looking forward.
Some quiet time questions to pray over:
- What is your goal? What is the character trait you are trying to emulate more?
- Is the Holy Spirit attracting you to take on some part of Jesus’ life? To grow certain fruits of the Spirit?
- Do you let regrets from the past paralyze your actions in the present? Meditate on those verses and pray for God’s peace as you take small steps forward. (remember Peter attempting to walk on water)