When I look back upon my life, I wish I could say I regret nohing…well, nothing, if you want to be accurate, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. Time after time, I have been faced with a situation or set of conditions, and no matter what my intentions were at the time, I undoubtedly made a bad decision. Sometimes, the effects of those bad decisions come on instantly, and sometimes they take a while to develop. Some of those decisions have consequences that last minutes…or hours, and some of them, like the tattoo pictured above, are permanent. Regardless of the duration of the consequence, or the delay in the effects of it hitting you, there always comes this wave of sickness that rushes over us. The cold-sweats take over, our heart races, and we begin to think really creative ways to either rationalize what we’ve done, or look for ways to reverse and erase the outcomes of those bad decisions. In that moment, what we feel is called, regret. I have seen it written many times that there is no such thing as regret, just life experiences. Well, friends…that is simply a line to sell greeting cards or to attempt to make someone feel better, but we know the truth…regret is real.
Think about some of those decisions that have taken you to that place we just discussed. Usually, along the way, we felt several sensations telling us that whatever the we were about to do…was a really bad idea, yet we didn’t listen. We stayed head strong, and pedal down, and plowed right into that decision, regardless of what we were thinking.
Why do you think that would be?
I know why, and so do you. With some of these things in our past we learn from our mistakes…and make better decisions going forward. While we’d like to think our experience comes from our wisdom, the reality is that it comes from having our priorities in order. By that, of course, I mean having God first. If you are truly living with God at the helm, you’ll be protected from regret. Just follow Jesus…it can be that easy. In every case in my life, where I have had the warm blooded, cold sweat rush of regret come over me, I know for a fact that I had my priorities set towards me, not towards Jesus.
Maybe, you’re in the middle of such a struggle right now, and you’re thinking, “I know, I know…I do need to straighten this ship out, but…not yet. But I will…” That thinking comes from the fact that you haven’t had to face the effects…or the consequences, of those decisions. Eventually…you will.
One of my favorite Johnny Cash songs puts it like this: “Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand/ Working in the dark against your fellow man/ But as sure as God made black and white/ What’s done in the dark will be brought to the light.”
If you’re living in darkness, the effects and consequences will catch up to you. In my world, when I feel regret, it is defined as the awful way I feel from the bad decision until the bad decisions outcome is known by those around me. And…if you think it can slip past everyone, you might be right. Jesus would want you to remember that it will not slip past Him. It’s written for you in Romans 14:12.
For as long as we have made our own decisions, we’ve felt regret. In Genesis, even Lot had his moment of cold sweats, in fact he had many of them, but this one…for me, is the most pronounced. It comes in Genesis 19:12-13:
“12 Meanwhile, the angels questioned Lot. “Do you have any other relatives here in the city?” they asked. “Get them out of this place—your sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone else. 13 For we are about to destroy this city completely. The outcry against this place is so great it has reached the Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it.”
Lot knew the Lord did not approve of this place, yet he never left it until the angels forced him to leave. Why? Certainly, that is open for debate by Biblical scholars that are much more educated than myself, but he was successful, living a good life, and a lot of the reasons why were because of the land, and the people of Sodom. But then, the angels tell him they are about to destroy the city completely, and the cold sweats started. We can begin to become desensitized to the world God wants us to have, as soon as we take our focus off of God. It happens over and over again, in the Bible…and in our daily world.
Proudly, I can proclaim that it has been quite a while since I have had waves of regret come over me. Why? I am committed to my Lord, Jesus Christ, and to my wife, Natalie. I am so sickened by the thought of regret in disappointing those close to me in life, that the ability to sidestep bad decisions gets easier by the day. But no matter how confident I am that I can do it all by myself, I know better…for my past is littered with those moments of where I focused on me before anyone else. And it’s not a place I ever want to visit again.
My prayer for you…for all of us…is that we remember the lessons learned by those in the Bible, in our Church, in our family…in our own life, and that we remain focused on our Savior with laser-like precision to avoid the effects of putting ourselves first. I have never regretted one thing I have done when my focus is on Jesus and my heart is His, and I know I never will.
Have a beautiful week, and God bless.
Eric J. Wasson