If only.

I want a redo.

Truly.  Sometimes I think back over my life and I would really love a chance to live parts of it over again, but differently.  I’ve lost friendships, said words I regret, been angry when love was what was needed, let my feet take me places I knew better than to go, and much much more.

Regrets.

Maybe you feel the same way.

If we just had a time machine, or a magic lamp to rub.  Wouldn’t that be something?

My dad always told me that “if” was the biggest word in the dictionary.  It’s true if you think about it. “If I just hadn’t done that”, or “If I just hadn’t said that”.  Or how about “If I had just gone ahead and done that thing” or “what would things be like if that hadn’t happened to me”? We torture oursleves with “if”.

Big sigh.

If only.

Willow Lake

We all have regrets.  Each of us can think back on our lives and remember circumstances that we’d like to change. Those things can keep us up at night.  The wish to redo situations knowing what we know now is strong.  Regret and shame can hold us prisoner.  The enemy of our souls uses those emotions to trap us all the time. In order to keep us from experiencing peace, forgiveness, and joy, he will bring up the wrongs we have done in our life, over and over.  He will often play them on repeat in our minds. So much so, that the truth of scripture can’t get in.  

The voice in our head from our own shortcomings is so loud that the gentle whisper of God’s redeeming love almost can’t be heard.

And since we can’t redo those things, despair can set in.  But despair is the opposite of hope. 

The disciple Peter had regrets.  You will remember that Peter followed Jesus with everything he had.  He had a front row seat to everything that Jesus did.  All the miracles, all the teaching, all the humility and all the joy of being in the presence of The Messiah.  Peter saw it all.

In fact, Peter was closer to Jesus than some of the other disciples.  He was part of the inner circle.

But when the rubber met the road, Peter bailed.  Peter’s faith was fierce, but his flesh was fiercer still…As they led Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest, Peter followed at a distance.  You can imagine that the entire time, Peter was contemplating his next move.  As he walked along with the others who were following to see what would happen to this Jesus, Peter was there.  He would likely have been thinking over the past few years and all that had changed in his life because of Jesus.  He would have been recalling fireside talks, feeding thousands of people with just two small fish and a few tiny loaves of bread.  He would have remembered when Jesus changed the water in some giant clay jugs into the best wine they had ever tasted.  It was there in the courtyard of the high priest where Peter denied that he even knew who Jesus was. 

And Jesus heard him.

Jesus turned to make eye contact with Peter, and the guilt and shame that Peter felt drove him from the courtyard in tears. Luke 22:62 says,  “And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.”

Regrets.

For Peter, the sting of regret was monumental.  Denying Jesus was not something that Peter did flippantly, or in the heat of the moment.  He had been with Jesus all day, and into the night.  They were together preceding Jesus’ arrest.  Jesus had warned Peter of what was coming, and Peter had sworn his loyalty to Jesus.  Fiercely. They had gone together to the Mount of Olives where Jesus asked the disciples to stay awake and pray, but they could not.  Jesus went a stone’s throw away to talk to His Father about the suffering he was about to endure.  The disciples fell asleep many times during Jesus’ time of prayer. Yet each time Jesus came back to them and admonished them to stay alert. And Peter was there, the entire time.

Peter would have given a lot of thought to his association with Jesus during that grueling day.  

Denying Jesus would have been the last thing on his mind. So when it happened, the regret was instant.

But later, in Matthew 16:18, Peter is offered restoration by Jesus when He declares that Peter is foundational to the church of God moving forward.  “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”  Peter was restored in his faith by the very One whom he had denied!  In a way, Peter got a redo.  He got the chance to do things right.  

Me (at Willow Lake)

When the pain of regret and the sting of shame begin to edge their way into our thought life, it’s time to intentionally turn the page on those feelings. We are taught throughout scripture that God loves us unconditionally, that He made a way (in Jesus) for us to share eternity with Him, and that He desires a relationship with us.

Jesus was unwilling to let Peter drown in guilt and shame.  Even now, maybe He is using these words to express that message to you too.

Take to heart these truths that come from God’s love letter to us.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 tells me that God loves me. “God loves you and has chosen you to be His own people”.

1 Peter 2:9 reminds me that I am chosen.  “You are a chosen people.  You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.”

1 John 2:12 tells me that I am forgiven.  “I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus”.

Galatians 5:1 states that I am free.  “So Christ has truly set us free.  Now make sure you stay free…”

2 Corinthians 5:17 declares that I am made new.  “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is GONE; a new life has begun!”

Promises like those in scripture give me the confidence to let go of regret.  They give me hope for a future where shame and regret no longer hold me captive.  They encourage me that today is different already because the Lord is in my life.  With His presence in me, regret and shame  have no room to reside, because that space is now taken up with faith in Jesus and His hope!

You guessed it, Willow Lake

Peter knew regret.  Shame drove Peter from the courtyard. Fear caused him to run away.  But Jesus restored him and gave him purpose!

Jesus offers the same restoration to you and me.  No matter where we’ve been.  No matter what we’ve done.  No matter who we were yesterday.  Today is the day of salvation!  Today we are offered new life!

Today there is hope!

Peter admitted his shortcomings and sin to God.  He was forgiven, and able to be used by God in a mighty way.  You and I have the same opportunity.

When the ugliness of my past mistakes rears an accusing head, and calls me out, I can declare confidently that I am forgiven and free!  That I have been redeemed and restored.  

The only “if” I want to entertain these days is “What will God do in this situation if I am faithful to Him and press forward?  I try to be careful not to focus for too long on what is behind me, I am not headed that direction anymore.     

And, by faith, neither are you my sister.

Jesus, I want to lay my past out before you now.  (tell Him here those things that are holding you hostage, don’t hold anything back, He already knows).  I want to lay all of these things at your feet Lord, and I beg you to break the chains of the enemy that tell me I can’t change.  They tell me I can’t be forgiven.  They tell me that I need to fix myself before you will love and accept me.  Give me the holy courage to remain in the truth of Your word that declares that I am a new creation! I no longer need to carry that weight, You have taken it from me.   I love you Lord.

Purposefully,

Shelli