Regrets

It seems like I’ve done more memorial services than usual the last few months. Memorial services should be times when we do something we don’t do enough of, and that is take time for pondering. Having multiple services occur the last few months has especially caused me to feel called by God to ponder.

I read of a man who did some pondering when he knew he was coming toward the end of his life. He had some regrets over things he had done, but he was bothered more by regrets over things he had not done. He regretted how rarely he had said, “I love you” to people who were close to him. He regretted he had spent so much time working and so little time with his kids and grandkids. He usually said, “Yes” when work asked him to do something but “Later” when the kids asked him to play or read to them. He regretted that “Later” never came. He regretted he had been more focused on building up his bank account than building up people. He regretted he had taken good care of his stuff but not such good care of his relationships. He had been successful at work, but he regretted he hadn’t been so determined to be successful in relating to his family and friends.

Some 20 years ago as I was wondering whether or not to be part of an effort to plant a new church in the Beaverton, Oregon area, a friend told me, “You’ll kick yourself if you don’t at least try.” She was right. Even though things didn’t go the way we had hoped, I’m glad we tried. Often in life the fear of failure causes us to not try to serve God and people, and it leads to regret. We regret that we didn’t stretch ourselves and take on the challenge of trying to serve God in a new way. We regret that we didn’t tell our friend about Jesus because we were scared they might ask a question we couldn’t answer. We regret that we kept on doing what was easy and familiar, even though we felt God leading us to do something that was hard but rewarding. We regret we didn’t check out what gracious gifts God might have for us down the new path.

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). God is going to give us opportunities in this new year to serve Him, to let people know how amazing His grace is, to share the love of Jesus with people. He is going to give us opportunities to live, to take on new challenges, to explore new adventures, to invest in relationships in deeper ways. Don’t let fear be a roadblock that gets in the way of you going down the path God has for you. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

God has great things in store for us in this coming year. Let us fearlessly follow Him and look forward to the adventures ahead.

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