Handling Regrets


Reposted from The River Walk

I wouldn’t go around calling myself old just yet. Granted, I’m no spring chicken. One of my second graders the other day said to me, “Teacher BJ. Your chin. It is white.” I gave her a look of mock horror and said, “Get it out!” She giggled, plucked a white hair out of my chin. That would have been bad enough, but she then started counting out how many other white hairs she saw. It was not encouraging how easily she spotted them and how high she could have counted if I had not stopped her. She might have gone beyond her English ability and switched into Turkish if I had let it go on. Sigh.

So I might not be old, but I do have enough years behind me to have accumulated quite a few memories. Some of those memories are great. Others, well, not so much. I’ve said a few things I regret. I’ve done a few things I regret. I was fired more than once in my past and there is no question in hindsight that it was my fault. I was young and stupid once. Now I am not quite as young and hopefully a little wiser, but I am still prone to make dumb mistakes.

Fortunately, none of my mistakes involve adultery. I haven’t yet killed anyone to cover up my indiscretions. So obviously, I am a much godlier man than King David, right? No?

One of the things that always gets me is how David is continuously looked at in the future annals of the kings of Israel and Judah. When a king was good, they would record, “He served the Lord wholeheartedly as David did.” When they were just ok, “They served the Lord, but not as wholeheartedly as David.” And this wasn’t just something said in the distant future where the past can be easily glossed over. When the prophet confront’s David’s son Solomon, he says, “You have not been like my servant David, who obeyed my commands and followed me with all his heart and always did whatever I wanted.”

Seriously? Always? Is he talking about the same guy we are reading of here? This David had horrible parenting skills. For years he made a living going into towns, robbing them blind, and then killing them to a man so that no witnesses to his crime could give him away. He nearly wiped out an entire household for a slight. He was a polygamist. He was an adulterer. He was a murderer. In spite of all this God says David was a man after His own heart. Why?

Probably the best lesson we can learn from David is how to handle our regrets. I am one to try and hide them. I don’t ever want anyone to find out about what I did and I am even dumb enough to try and hide it from God. That said, I also tend to dwell on those failures far too much in my own mind and I have this insane notion that my past regrets disqualify me from future obedience. It was four and a half years after being fired from one church before I was working in another. While I was serving God during that time in other ways, I had mistakenly convinced myself that I had closed off that opportunity for the future. I had disqualified myself.

How many of us continue to do the same thing today? How slowly do we repent when we fail? Do we even repent? Then, once we have laid our guilt at the cross how much longer do we continue to drag around our shame? What great adventures is God calling us onward to but we won’t listen because the noise of our own regrets drowns out His voice? David was a man after God’s own heart. This isn’t because he was perfect. He messed up. He messed up big and often. But when he did, he repented quick and moved forward in obedience. God, help us to do the same.

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