Sinkholes spook me. Especially the largest one — regret. It sucks us all in sometimes.
“Man, I wish I’d have....” I’ve said, all too often. If I permit myself to dwell on them, I’d spend entire days gnawing on things I would change about my past, large and small, if that were possible. The major decision that proved wrong. The conversation that waited too long. That thing I did or said and shouldn’t have; and the thing I should have done, but let the moment slip. The embrace I didn’t give when I had opportunity, the note I should have written, the visit or call I never made before it was too late.
The regret pit, like most sinkholes, grows. If I loiter long at its edge, eventually I sigh and toss in a few more specific regrets. The small repair — relationship and other — I should have made before it became too large to do so. The organization I should have joined, but didn’t. The possession I bought, but shouldn’t have.
The small weeds I should have eliminated before they took over. The notes of thanks to people who don’t know that in some small way they changed my life for the better.
But a nudge from the Holy Spirit reminds me I have options. I could, in self-pity, devour all the chocolate in the cupboard (in one go), then dive into my personal regret pit and let it take me down. Or I could shove away and remember who I am — and who I belong to. A believer, a child of Jesus. The Saviour, who when I ask, is able to forgive every act I bring to him in repentance.
Regret, I’ve learned, can become a subtle form of pride. Like pride, it’s never productive. So I choose to change my focus. Yes, I have a pit of regrets, but I don’t need to spend my life sulking on its perilous edges. Dwelling overlong on an unchangeable past denies me the present and future that God, because of His forgiveness and amazing grace, guarantees. A life of
freedom and joy, released, though not from consequences, at least from unproductive regrets.
The Apostle Paul who, before his dramatic conversion, persecuted Christians to their death, had more cause to regret his past than most. When physically confronted by the blazing light of Truth, he repented and turned. God not only covered Paul’s past with mercy and grace, he did something even more astounding. For centuries, he has used Paul as an example of his love and patience with sinners like me and you. 1 Timothy 1:16 explains it in almost those exact words.
If you’re poised on the edge of your own regret pit, know this: whatever your past, God is able to do the same for you. So when Satan invites you to chew on the bitter husks of past regrets, take them to Jesus and exchange them for a sweet feast of grace and forgiveness.
That’s even better than chocolate.