He sat up in bed, saying his goodbyes, grey eyes staring right into mine. I stared back as I was being pushed out the door. I did not get to hug his neck or tell him I loved him. We continued to stare at each other until I was out of sight. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. My heart screamed out to him and my head filled with fear. I would never see him again.
This happened when I was thirteen years old. My granddaddy was the man sitting up in bed; a hospital bed. Cancer had taken over his lungs and he lost his battle a few nights after my last visit with him. I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not give my granddaddy a hug before saying goodbye. After visiting with him and my grandma at their house, they would walk my mom, dad, brother and I to our car and he would always tell me, “Come hug my neck.” And I would reach my tiny arms around this seven-foot tall man and hug him with all my strength. He was my best friend. We did everything together. I was by his side at all times. I loved this man with every bit of my heart. But that last night – my last time every seeing him – I did not hug his neck.
Regret. What a powerful word. Our sermon yesterday at church focused on this word. The pastor spoke of regret and disappointment and described the difference between the two. Disappointment is when you wish something would have turned out differently, but you had no control over its outcome. Regret is something you know would have turned out differently had you made a better choice. Regret will paralyze you. Regret will imprison you. John Ortberg said, “Hell is human regret consolidated.”
Matthew 26 tells us the story of Peter’s promise to Jesus that he would never desert Him (Matt. 26:33). However, Jesus knew that Peter’s promise would be broken. He told Peter that he would deny Him three times on that same night. Yet once again, Peter insisted that this was not true.
When Jesus is arrested by the traitor Judas, Peter waits outside in the courtyard. A servant girl tells Peter that she saw him with Jesus. Here is where Peter’s first denial comes in. In front of everyone in the courtyard, Peter denied knowing Jesus. He denied knowing the Lord. He denied knowing Jesus a second time to another servant girl who claimed to have seen him with Jesus. This time his denial was done with an assurance. The bystanders knew that he must have known Jesus because he spoke with a Galilean accent. Yet again, Peter swore he did not know the Lord. Three denials in the same night. Then the rooster crowed.
Imagine Peter’s shock as the sound of the crowing rooster entered his ears. Oh how his heart must have stopped at that very moment. The Bible says that Peter went away and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75). He was overwhelmed with regret at what he had done. He denied the Lord! He denied knowing his own creator.
In Psalm 38:4-8, David speaks of his own regret. He says that his guilt is overwhelming because of his own poor choices. His heart is grief-stricken over the choices he made. He is spiritually imprisoned.
Our pastor ended our sermon yesterday with three ways in which we can be set free from the prison of regret. One, we can accept our second chances. We can be set free through the forgiveness of Christ! (Psalm 32:5) We just need to be honest and come clean with God (Proverbs 28:13). Second, we need to clarify our values and think about what is really important. Think about what your life looks like to you when you are on your deathbed. Are you happy with how you lived? Do you have any regrets? Third, we need to pursue God’s plan for our lives with all of our heart, mind, and soul. The Lord gives us a great promise in Isaiah 43:4-8. He tells us not to dwell on the past because He is doing something new. What a wonderful promise from the Lord! Isn’t He amazing?
What about you? Do you have many regrets? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below. May you have a very blessed day. Do not dwell on the past!