It eats away at your soul, your mind, your heart, your flesh.
It whispers words of condemnation in your ear.
It gnaws at your effectiveness, sanity, and stamina.
It grows with age, spreads with rage, and fills every page.
You know it well.
Like the ghost of one who has passed from this life – whose memory haunts you, who follows you everywhere – it lingers in your clothes, your bed, your possessions.
Trinkets, souvenirs. Old papers. Files from past seasons of your life, physical records imbued with some magical power to transport you to olden days, to permeate your bones with chilling, melancholic nostalgia.
Things said, things done.
Wounds inflicted by your sword.
Things unsaid. Things undone.
Wounds of hunger, deprivation, thirst, starvation.
Inflicted by your negligence, or simply by your mortal and human limitations.
You know you’re only human, and not every need is a call. And yet…
You just can’t shake the feeling that if you’d only said or done something differently…something more…
Your friend would still be here.
Your child wouldn’t have rejected the love of Christ.
You’d be in a different situation financially right now.
The avalanche begins.
You feel a massive heaviness engulf you – a landslide of shame, guilt, and…regret.
You know that Jesus died to pay for sin and to change the destiny of your soul. You know that all things are covered in him.
And yet…daily, the enemy and your own self-critical voice batter you with accusations.
If only you’d been a more faithful friend! Perhaps your friend wouldn’t have drifted away, lost hope, or committed suicide.
If only you’d been a better father/mother! Perhaps your child would know the love and truth of Jesus and would have accepted him as their Savior by now.
If only you’d spent less money here or there, prayed more, asked more questions, trusted your intuition, seen that relative one last time before they passed away.
If only you’d seen the future, like God.
If only you’d been completely, perfectly, and consistently loving – like God.
If only you could have saved people’s souls – like God.
If only you could have pursued them with truth in time – like God.
If only you’d had the omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence of God.
But…you are not God.
You are carrying burdens you were not meant to carry.
For every place you failed, God could have raised up another person, circumstance, or agent of his love.
He gives us meaningful and important work to do, but mysteriously, he’s also not dependent on us.
God is not confused, lost, or thrown off by our failures, mistakes, or shortcomings.
Just as God can call forth praise from the rocks (Luke 19), so can he also call forth other people or events to accomplish his work and spread his love.
There are letters I wish I’d written differently, or not written at all.
Words I wish I’d spoken while I had the chance.
Friendships I wish I’d watered more.
Not only do I regret the things done and left undone within my own small sphere of ability and power, but I also regret the many things I’m unable to change or improve within the larger scale of the whole of humanity. I regret my inability to right the wrongs – the injustices – of the world.
There are many things in this life I don’t understand.
Premature deaths – especially the deaths of babies, children, teenagers, young adults.
Why people who care about stewarding their lives well often seem to be met with many setbacks and obstacles, while people who don’t seem to care often appear to have so much ability and so many opportunities which go unharvested.
These, too, are God-sized burdens. Things too great for our finite minds to carry or understand.
These questions of “why?” must also be released into the hands of the Master Builder.
Only he can see the entire floor plan – the whole structure.
“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sexsin?”
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.
“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
“It’s too heavy,” I said.
“Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”
Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place
There are things we will likely never understand in this life. In our readiness and ability to comprehend, we are as children. But we have a strong Father.
One who can carry our mistakes, our sins, our regrets. The tragedies and sorrows of life which are beyond our reach and mental ability to grasp.
He is the Master of time – of the present and the future, but also the past.
If he so chooses, he can even alter history – alter the past. Clean up messes from a different time and place.
Time is not linear to him as it is to us.
We seek to “let” Christ accomplish his love and purposes through us. But when we fail – stumbling into ugly sin or human weakness – it is healing to remember the truth that there is nothing we do that can outweigh or “outdo” God’s plan and power.
As demonstrated in Christ’s work on the cross, even the sin of the entire world could not outdo the love, power, creativity, and wisdom of God.
Our sins were overcome with a greater work by a Higher Power.
So it is with the regrets in our lives. God can use anything for good. There is nothing we’ve knotted or messed up so much that he can’t unravel it, or make something beautiful out of the knots.
This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
– 1 John 3:19-20
If you have a relationship with Jesus, then he has called you to rest in him – in his peace which surpasses understanding.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:6-7
Rest in his infinite love and wisdom. <3
Rest in the warmth and light of his gaze – which looks upon you with favor because of his Son.
Rest in his power, which has the ability to work in ways we can’t begin to comprehend or imagine.
<3 The Bleeding Blogger