“If you believe change is not possible when looking at a situation, you are deciding what God’s grace is capable of achieving.”
The message of God’s grace through Christ is the most beautiful gift any of us can ever possess—especially for those who have made significant mistakes along the way. Though we may have regrets, the weight of God’s forgiveness covers our choices with a love so big that the past loses it power over us.
I recently heard a message that sadly left listeners without this hope. Its focus was on parenting. In a nutshell, the message said, “If you do not do as Scripture instructs, you will have regrets.” Ok, makes sense. We know that Scripture has been given to us for a reason and will spare us much heartache. But all of us have fallen short of its expectations.
So then what? Oh, yes . . . a heart full of regret.
As a person who the enemy loves to torment with the past, I began to squirm in my seat. Occasionally, I squeezed my husband’s leg in almost uncontainable frustration. The message continued and my spirit grew heavier and heavier, especially for the men in the auditorium who were being held to the highest level of accountability. Yet I remained hopeful and kept waiting for it . . . and waiting . . . and waiting.
But it never came.
There was plenty of truth, but no grace. Not a shred.
As my husband and I sat there—two people who have made a thousand mistakes as parents—we were left to see ourselves as only one thing: failures.
Years ago, I heard Bunnie Wilson share about the remorse she had in raising her children. Her regret was that she had not taught them to have a servant’s heart. But—and there was a but—she pointed us all to a new day, a new beginning, a Christ-centered resolve.
Bunnie said that now, every time she is with her children, she models servanthood for them. What she did not teach them when they were young, she taught them as adults.
And they were changed by her efforts.
Every parent in the room who had missed the boat in some aspect of parenting left with that hope. I have never forgotten her reminder of God’s ability to redeem our less than perfect choices.
If you believe change is not possible when looking at a situation, you are deciding what God’s grace is capable of achieving.
God has given us history so that we that we can learn from it, but Paul also understood the danger of living in the past. As he wrote in Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
We can live in the bondage of regret, or we can let the power of God’s grace move us into a new day. Either way it requires effort. Regret is like carrying around that proverbial baggage, where grace requires humility: placing any limitations, grudges or shame into the hands of God.
Whether we are at the podium or in the pews, rigidity in our thinking when it comes to God’s ability to change us or restore a relationship/situation, diffuses the work of the cross.
Oddly, our regrets can be the very things that help us understand our need for Jesus.
We must accept consequences, yes, but God has shown us time and time again that He can take a mess and turn it into a masterpiece.
Which do you choose? The mess or the masterpiece? Regret or grace?
Originally Published in Dawn Wilson’s “Upgrade With Dawn,” February 2015.