Time has been on my mind a lot lately. I find myself contemplating how fast it goes and how much things change. I realize how true this is because so much is different now than just 5 years ago, while 15 years ago seems like a different lifetime altogether. Memories make it possible to evaluate the force of time upon our lives; they are windows into what transpired. I try hard to focus only on the happy ones while looking forward to good things that lie ahead. But it’s so difficult to shake painful things of the past and I often struggle with regret. It’s true: hindsight really is 20/20.
I like this quote by Jeremy Irons: “We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they’re called memories. Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.” If I could go back in time…gosh, there are so many things I would do differently. Do you ever get overwhelmed like me by all the stupid decisions you made and foolish things you said? I could just die from embarrassment and shame thinking about all the bad choices I made and dumb things I said. Some of them were silly and benign, but others were quite serious and make me cringe with regret. It’s the mark of sin in my life, plain and simple. There’s no escaping it; my list is so long.
We often continue fixating on our mistakes to an unhealthy degree. Perhaps we fear judgement from others. We may over-react and beat ourselves up with remorse. Remorse can escalate into guilt and shame and maybe even cause anxiety or depression. We further burden ourselves with unnecessary baggage that binds and imprisons us. Sin is alive in our bodies because we are weak creatures and the world is fallen. We try so hard to forget, deny or hide our failures because we are ashamed of them; this is rooted in pride.
But our instinct to hide is not entirely wrong, it’s misguided. Our pride motivates us to hide our weakness and shame in the wrong places and in the wrong way, so we fail miserably. But we can bring our failures to Christ and he will cover them. He is the protection and refuge we seek; he’s the only safe place where we can turn and have our shame completely covered:
So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. – Hebrews 6:17-18 (ESV)
It’s only the grace of Jesus who can make us guiltless and free of sin and death:
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” – John 1:29 (ESV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
And the amazing thing is that God is so gracious and merciful, he promises to forget our sins and remove them for good:
For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” – Hebrews 8:12 (ESV)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:11-12 (ESV)
I’m learning to stop obsessing over the mistakes of my past, trusting the One who has already covered them. It’s this unfathomable grace of God which should motivate us to repent and be obedient to his calling:
For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.. – Hebrews 13:14-16 (ESV)
Let’s be thankful every day and praise God for the gift of his grace, the freedom we have in Christ, His redemption for our sins and the promise of salvation. I do appreciate that quote by Jeremy Irons, but this one by C. S. Lewis is so much better because it has eternity in mind: “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”