By John Miltenberger
I’ve been told by those professing to know, that once Jesus has forgiven us our sins, we should have no more regrets, and I respectfully, but strongly disagree. It’s almost like saying that once we know how to row a boat, we should never have to remember how to swim. What I do agree with is that, and with many other things, regret should never rule us, but I’m not going to be afraid of it as long as it doesn’t.
There are infrequent times when I fall into regret. And for those brief moments it’s like falling into a hole that gets darker and darker. The healthy part of it is, I know it’s a brief trip, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ve already lived through most of today, and the waters have been calm, but a few minutes ago, as I was praying, I realized I missed my dog, and with the realization, regret flooded over me and I could feel myself break inside. I reminded God that He gave Max to me, and I asked Him to take care of him until we can be together again. I know, sounds pretty maudlin, but I’m just telling the truth without shame – can you identify?
Then I began to miss my mom and dad (and I’m thankful to know they’re with God right now), and I began to seriously regret how I took them both for granted, and in effect, rejected them for most of my life. And in fact, it was only after they both were gone that I realized what a lifelong jerk I had been to them…and I regret realizing that only after nothing of my history with them could be changed.
I remember with an unending awe how my mom and dad never, ever stopped loving me. Why, O why, was that so offensive to me at the time? And to this day I’ve never been able to understand their unquenchable love. They loved me just as God loves me…in spite of my glaring shortcomings and offenses without number – they just loved me, and I’m sure they still do. Only now, I have to ask God to be my mediator, and tell them how I finally realized what it must have cost them to never give up on me. Only Almighty God can create an adequate reward for that kind of love. And right now I’d give up all of my tomorrows to spend an afternoon with my mom and dad, all three of us playing with my dog!
You know, I think that without some healthy level of regret, it’s difficult to be grateful. It’s difficult to be grateful for the light unless you’ve lived too long in darkness. Jesus, of course, said it best: “He who is forgiven much, loves much.” But with no memory of the sting of regret, we risk undervaluing His forgiveness, and the incredible hope that can flood our souls with that knowledge.
I look back on the course and length of my life, and it is with a jolt that I realize I’m now an old man. My body has to lean on God’s incredible grace more every day just to make it into the next one. When I was much younger, and entrenched in my “jerk years”, I had this sense I was somehow entitled to a long life, but I’m proclaiming today what a lie that is! Better men than myself, through no fault of their own, never made it a full twenty five years. Life is a gift, and I sincerely hope whoever reads this understands the intensity I write that with, while they still can.
But thank God this world, as it now is, is passing away, and the longer we live the less reason we have to be firmly attached to it. I for one, want to play with my dog again, and laugh with my mom and dad.
They are, I suspect, among that ‘great cloud of witnesses’, and I’m proclaiming for all of heaven to hear – if I could be half the man my dad was while he was on the earth, I’ll finish well.
God bless you today – I hope you finish well too.
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John Miltenberger is a Christian blogger, visit John on his site: The Trip So Far
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