Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In Part 1, I started talking about regrets, and I said that often we say, If only I had done this or if only I hadn’t done that. And, of course, there are regrets—a man may have broken his marriage vows, or a woman looses contact with her children. Any of us may have done the wrong thing, or thought the wrong thing.
But let me just say, talking about the Potter and the clay, that God, our loving Heavenly Father, never throws us away. And in an amazing way, in the sovereign ways of God, he reshapes our lives, he makes us what he wants. We are like the clay in the potter’s hand and he takes the brokenness and moulds us into somebody worthwhile.
It was 6 May 1954 when Roger Bannister became the first man in history to run a mile in less than four minutes. But within two months, John Landy eclipsed the record by 1.4 seconds. Then on 7 August the same year, the two men met together for a historic race. In the first lap, Landy held the lead. It looked as if he would win. But as he neared the finish line, his mind said, Where is Bannister? As he turned to look back, Bannister took the lead. John Landy later told a Time magazine reporter, “If I hadn’t looked back, I would have won.” Landy had to live with those moments of regret.
Don’t Let Your Regrets Trap You In the Past
In life, we have many choices to make, but we can never be absolutely sure what the results will be. Billy Graham tells of a conversation he had with John F. Kennedy just after his election as President of the United States. They were in the same car travelling back to Kennedy’s house when the newly elected President asked Graham if he believed in the second coming of Jesus Christ. “I most certainly do” he replied. Kennedy wanted to know more, but time did not permit any further conversation. ”We’ll have to talk again sometime,” he said.
A few years later at the 1963 National Prayer Breakfast, Billy Graham met up with the President again, but he had the flu and wasn’t feeling well. John F. Kennedy asked if he would ride back to the White House with him, because he wanted to see him for a minute. “I’m sorry, Mr President. I don’t want to give you this flu. Couldn’t we wait until another time?” It was a cold, snowy day, and Kennedy said, “Of course”. But the two men would never meet again. Later that same year, the President was shot dead, and Billy Graham says in his autobiography, “His hesitation at the car door, and his request, still haunt me. What was on his mind? Should I have gone with him? It was a moment I could never bring back”.
God has a definite plan for your life, but he needs your assistance in getting there.
We all make mistakes, but the problem starts when we let them trap us in the past. We focus on the past regrets at our own peril. Why? Because we miss out on what God is doing in our lives today, and what he is planning for the future. God has a definite plan for your life, but he needs your assistance in getting there. It’s all about our perspective.
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In Christ, You Are a New Creation
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come”. When we invite Jesus Christ into our life as Lord and Saviour, he deals with past sins and mistakes. He offers forgiveness:
If we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing. (1 John 1:9 – GNT)
There is not a single thing in our past than could ever separate us from God, or from his love. So let’s not get too bogged down with regrets. Constantly thinking about our mistakes is not a useful exercise at all. It may result in us feeling it’s too late to move on, or become the person I want to be. These negative feelings stop us from living life to the full today. In fact, they only serve to increase feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and the fear that others will reject you.
There is not a single thing in our past than could ever separate us from God, or from his love.
If you’re going to live a life free of regret, then you will need God’s help. Realise your deep need of his presence and power to help you. It was St Augustine who prayed, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You”. His prayer explains so clearly what we need to hear. The Psalmist in Psalm 34 wrote: “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me; he freed me from all my fears…Find out for yourself how good the Lord is…The Lord is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope” (Psalm 34:4,8,18 – GNT).
God is close to the broken-hearted, and he yearns to be our Friend and Guide who wants to share our struggles and feelings of regret. After all it was Jesus who said, “Everything is possible for God” (Mark 10:27).