The older I get, it seems, the more I have a tendency to look back on my life and examine where I’ve been; perhaps ‘evaluate’ how I’ve done at living the life the Lord has granted me. Looking back can, for a certainty, produce … regrets. If I allow myself the time, and I am really in touch with that process, it isn’t long before I remember things that I didn’t do that I wish I’d done, or I recall that I did things I wish I hadn’t done. Regrets.
You, no doubt have your own list of things you regret. Here’s a short list of mine. (I say a ‘short list,’ because if I noted all of them? Well, I’m not sure I’m even up for that task.) So, a short list of my regrets:
- I regret that I never learned more about photography. I’ve been to some amazing places on this earth, and seen some amazingly beautiful landscapes. But my pictures of those scenes, more often than not, look nothing like what I actually experienced. I regret not knowing more about photography. But then, even if I knew all about how to take a great picture? I’ve never seen a picture yet that could capture the majesty of God’s creation.
- I regret not having a hobby I invested my leisure time in over the course of my life. My regret about photography might have filled that void, I don’t know. But I can’t think of anything in my life that I’d actually call my ‘hobby.’ I mean, I play golf once every two or three years. I like to read, and I write books. But, I don’t consider those things actual ‘hobbies.’ I regret not having a hobby. But I don’t regret not spending huge amounts of time on things that have little ‘kingdom value.’
- I regret that I never learned how to fix my own car. I don’t even change my own oil. I pump my gas. But, I don’t know much about cars. I regret that, since I spend quite a bit of time driving. And I regret that I allow the frustrations cars and some of the other things I own can produce to detract me from things that are really important.
- I never learned to cook, either. I regret that. Oh, I can fry a decent egg; grill a burger on the grill. But, making something fancy like steak Diane or a great mess of chicken cacciatore is way beyond my reach, because I never really learned to cook. I regret that. And I regret that I’m not as grateful as I need to be for the food I enjoy every day, when so much of this world goes hungry every night.
I could go on. Maybe as I read a bit of my list, you thought about your own list. Things you regret, perhaps. Things that you started that didn’t turn out like you thought they would? Things you regret giving up on that you wished you hadn’t? We all have regrets, I think.
But there’s another interesting activity that often occupies my time, these days, as I look back over my life: The things I don’t regret. When I let myself amble down that road, all kinds of wonderful things come to mind:
- I don’t regret investing in the lives of people. When we commit ourselves to touching the lives of those around us in loving ways, we’re investing in what goes to heaven.
- I don’t regret even one moment or second I’ve spent talking to God. I’ve told God things I would never tell another living soul. And He’s listened as if I were the only person on earth.
- I don’t regret the painful experiences He has allowed in my life. If I had known beforehand that they were coming, I might not have signed up for them. But I will ever be grateful that God has used the painful things in my life to produce change, correction, character development, or maturity in me. He promised that. I believe that.
- And … I will never regret surrendering my life to Him. What an adventure. What peace in just knowing Him. Of course, there are self-imposed detours along the path.Those detours can sometimes be the story of a painful journey, for sure. But God uses even the detours to produce His own results.
The Living Bible Translation of II Cor. 7:10 says, “For God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life. We should never regret his sending it.”