Looking over my shoulder
We all have a portion of our lives that we regret having to go through. For some of us it’s a decision or string of decisions that quickly remind us of how broken we are. A fleeting thought or a year-long battle that put us in a corner we didn’t like.
Sometimes it’s fear; sometimes it’s pride, but regardless of what doorway sin stuck its foot in, we carry that history of ourselves with us.
There is a portion of my past that lasted about six years that I can honestly say I regret. My plan for my life didn’t match up to my reality, so I gave up. I felt defeated-like I had failed. In a matter of days I had lost my apartment, my job and had to drop out of school. After the sting of defeat came the anger. I was mad at myself, at the world, at God, at everything. My anger became my comfort.
I wrapped myself up in selfishness and told myself “It’s not fair!” I dried my tears with it. I clinched my fists with it. I was self-absorbed as often as I breathed.
The American dream became the most real to me during this time. Work (physically and emotionally) as little as possible; do what makes you the most comfortable.
Years passed as I distanced myself from God, responsibilities and obedience. I find it ironic that this season of my life perfectly mirrors the Israelites throughout their story of the Old Testament. They fumbled along, trying to figure out how to “make it” by their own means. Just like them, the Creator of all things hadn’t given up on me.
The renowned musician John Coltrane was very familiar with the Lord not giving up on him. In his liner notes to the album “A Love Supreme” he describes what he experienced as “a spiritual awakening”. He talks about how he prayed and asked God to give him the opportunity to make people happy with his music, and he did.
Those six years I regret ended in the spring of 2016. I was visiting a new church for the first time along with my sister. When the band started to play and sing, I began to worship. I emptied myself to the Lord and begged Him to forgive me of my sins. With tears streaming down my face I asked Him to restore my joy and be the center of my life again. After a series of returning Sundays to that same church, I continued to weep for restoration and fellowship with the Lord. The Spirit has returned my passion. Jesus has restored my faith, and God Almighty has shown His glory in His grace upon my sin.
I look over my shoulder at the six-year span of wasted years, and I regret them. I don’t regret that they brought me back to the warm and loving arms of Christ. I regret that those years had to happen to me, that I had to be the one to go through sin again to be able to glorify God. I wish with all my heart that I could be like the angels in the sense that they never had to taste sin in order to worship. Since I am created in God’s image and lavished with love, I am at an advantage compared to the celestial beings, but I digress.
Brothers and sisters, there are even darker tales than mine of lives lived in sin, but I have good news. You were not designed to wallow in it.
When God formed you in your mother’s womb, He did not do so believing He would regret the breath of life breathed into you. The Spirit does not move throughout your soul with regret of every gentle tug He makes. And Jesus, praise the Almighty, stayed nailed upon a cross not because of regret of His love for the Father and me and you; He stayed for the glory of God. Oh church, there is no regret in righteousness! You were created for more than your past sins.
One of my growing favorite verses in the Bible loudly proclaims this!
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:9-11).
Do not stay in sin, church, rather empty yourself to God who has made you for greater things. He will heal and repurpose your life. Put your back to your past, so that you may lift your eyes to the One who will glorify Himself in you!