When most people think of regrets our minds jump to past decisions we wish we had not made. We can walk through life wondering what could have been if certain events had not existed. We can ask ourselves a thousand what-if questions and nevertheless, the past doesn’t change. I have yet to meet one person who hasn’t looked back on a decision they made and wished they had chosen differently. However, regardless of how much we regret our actions, we can not change their existence. Some of our choices bring unintentional harm to others or ourselves, but despite intentions, we cannot avoid walking through the aftermath.
We live in a broken, fallen world where horrific events occur without ceasing. Some of these events are a result of our personal behaviors, other peoples decisions, and some are simply due to the corrupt state of the world. Genesis chapters 1 and 2 talks about when the world was perfect before sin entered; what a glorious time that must have been. No death, no sorrow, no grief, no harmful choices, and no sickness. Nothing deplorable what-so-ever took place on earth. It wasn’t until Adam and Eve made the choice to disobey God and eat from the tree of good and evil (Genesis 3) when perfection on earth ceased to exist.
I don’t know how many times I’ve studied the verses which recount the epic event of the day sin entered the world. A single decision was made that changed the world forever. Talk about having regrets. I think I can confidently say that Adam and Eve likely looked back on that life-changing moment with a certain amount of lament. Their actions didn’t halt or change God’s plans, nor did it catch Him off guard (Ephesians 1:11, Romans 8:28-30). He also didn’t turn His back on them, instead, he gave them the first animal sacrifice as clothing (Genesis 3:21). Adam and Eve made a choice without fully realizing the significance or the repercussions. I don’t believe they meant malicious harm to the entire human population, but does the drunk driver intend harm when driving down the road, striking another vehicle and killing all who occupied it? I’m not comparing the two situations directly, but they both hold a commonality, consequences. There are consequences to our choices regardless of whether we can foresee them or not. Adam and Eve could not predict the results of their actions, but there were negative effects just as there were ramifications for the drunk driver who did, in fact, know what could potentially happen.
Each one of us has made deliberate choices which we wish we had not, we are no better than Adam and Eve or the drunk driver. Our regrets are an opportunity for us to learn and grow not only in life, but more importantly, in Christ. These lessons, while often painful are necessary for our sanctification as we spend our life enduring the journey of being made holy. I use the word ‘enduring’ to describe the process because let’s be real here, sanctification is often less than enjoyable. However, the end results will bring an incomprehensible joy.
While the decisions we make are not a surprise to God, we do hold responsibility in how we live out our life. Seriously friends, we can not choose to ignore laws, bring harm to others, or intentionally sin in any capacity and chalk it up to being part of God’s plan for us or use the Cross as a crutch for our own debauchery (Hebrews 10:26-27). Nope. That’s not how it works. Sons and Daughters of God hold responsibilities to honor God and do what is right in His eyes (Deuteronomy 11:1, John 14:15, 2 Corinthians 10:5). God wants only good for us and while He allows awful occurrences to play out, He is not the reason for them (2 Corinthians 4:7-10). So when we make faulty choices, we will certainly suffer the effects of them in some capacity. We can sit in a puddle of our regrets or we can learn from them, repent as needed, and begin restoration.
Thankfully we know that God isn’t surprised by our choices (Proverbs 15:3) and He walks with us while we live through the consequences of our actions (Psalm 31:3, Revelation 7:17) just as He walked with Adam and Eve. He won’t abandon us because we messed up, whether intentional or not, and He won’t bring up our sin once we have sought His forgiveness (Romans 8:38-39, 2 Corinthians 4:16-17). With God as our Father, we can count on and be encouraged by correction from Him. While God is fully satisfied with the sacrifice Christ made on Calvary, He does call us, His Children, to obedience (Ecclesiastes 12:13). To help us learn to be obedient we need correction when we make unacceptable choices. This discipline we receive is for our good, it is for our sanctification as we grow closer to Him.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:5-11
Questions for Consideration:
- Have you allowed yourself to sit in a puddle of your regrets? Are you willing to learn from your past?
- Are you able to rest in knowing God has everything already worked out even though you don’t know His plans?
- Are you expecting God to allow you to live however you please and not endure the consequences?
- How are you growing in all capacities of your life through the struggles you endure? Are you growing closer to God or do you shake your fist at Him for the hardships?
- Fulfill your God-given responsibilities.
- Make a conscious effort to see all circumstances through a God-centered lens.
- Select a few verses to remind yourself that God will not abandon you regardless of your mess and meditate on those daily.
- Begin moving forward by acknowledging your unforgiven sins, seeking forgiveness for them, and beginning the process of restoration.
- Write down some ways you have seen growth as a result of your sanctification.