Rethinking the Past
This is not a time of year to be melancholy…I get that. But lately I’ve been thinking about some poor decisions I’ve made in the past and one in particular is starting to bother me (again). Never mind what it is. If you’re human, you likely have a few regrettable decisions in your past too.
As the year draws to a close, I want very much to start 2016 with a sense of hope—a sense that all my past decisions, both bad and good, can be used by God to form the tapestry of a life happily lived. Yes, even the poor decisions we make can be redeemed by God. In fact, those are the decisions that most need to be redeemed. Rarely does God need to redeem our right decisions.
I know all the clichéd responses to the way I feel: “Just give it to Jesus.” “Don’t let the enemy use this memory to distract you.” “God remembers your sins no more, and you should forget them too.” They’re all true, I don’t deny that. But I’m reaching for more.
I’m looking for a positive outcome of my poor decisions. That may sound a bit like an oxymoron: how can a bad decision have a positive outcome? Even so, I believe any and all our past decisions, mistakes, sins, wrong turns…whatever we want to call them…are turned to our eventual good as we surrender them to God (even when our past decisions were sinful choices from which we repented). But as you know, doing that requires walking not by sight, but by faith. And while we’re in the waiting process to see a good outcome, we can waste time running those bad past decisions through our memory again and again, rethinking how we should have done that part of our life differently.
Last night I went to sleep rethinking that part of my life. I woke up today slightly better. God seems to be reminding me that in cases like this, I have to trust His long term faithfulness to me. Really, like you, I can search my memory all day and not recall a time when God has failed me. Often His faithfulness was revealed after the passage of time. I think that’s what’s going on now. Time still must pass before I see the good fruit of a poor decision.
With the new year approaching, maybe you can join me in waiting in expectancy for good to come from poor decisions we made in the past. While we’re waiting, let’s not forget to pray about our situation. Prayer changes circumstances and it changes us.
Tell you what: you pray for me and I’ll pray for you.
May all of our past mistakes turn to golden threads in 2016. Happy New Year!
God redeems all of our bad choices so we can look back and say “yes, Lord, I see where you were working in my life. “
Amen, Nick! Thank you for a well written and thoughtful post. Many of us need this reminder.
God has been more than faithful to providing the way of bringing me out of the darkness and into a life filled with His presence and His love. There have been consequences to my sins even though forgiven by the Lord. However, in making the Lord Jesus number one in my life, I have made choices to continue to walk in love with the people whom I suffered from the consequences. I have made my amends. I have forgiven them although there are wounds in my heart that God continues to heal. I cannot force their forgiveness, but I release them to the care of the Lord and pray for their salvation especially. I also have made the choice to share Jesus with others. So if there be people who still cannot forgive me, there are many more who are benfiting from my sharing the wonderful benefits of choosing Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Therefore I choose to “make each day count” as I reach out to those who welcome the Word of God I thank God for the purpose He has given me as I do share him.My book Speak Your Healing from the Homosexual Deception is found on the website above. Avail as eBook on westbow press.com and amazon.com. Bless you Nick.
I deal with some of this in my book “The Freedom of Letting Go,” but I–like Nick–often stayed awake at night thinking of bad decisions I had made, some of which affected my family. I knew it was Satan, so finally one night, following the ladvice of a writer friend, I said, “Thank You, Lord, for all the things You have forgiven me for.” Now every time Satan throws those things up to me, I again thank God for His forgiveness and Satan leaves.
Just what I needed to hear.
Hi Nick, I don’t know how many nights I’ve lain awake in my life regretting past decisions. I feel for you because I know how un-fun that can be. I actually wrote some questions to help me work through the feelings. I included them in my Renewing of the Mind Project book along with some Bible verses – will include the excerpt from the book below in case you’re interested.
1. What do you wish you would have done or not done?
2. Do you think God wishes you had done things differently? Why or why not?
3. Since you can’t go back and change what you did or didn’t do, how do you think God wants you to respond now?
4. How would Satan like you to respond?
5. What can you gain from this experience if you respond the way God wants you to respond?
6. Can God redeem this situation even if you really messed up? Explain.
7. Is there anything you need to accept?
8. Is there anything you need to confess?
9. Do you need to apologize to anyone or make restitution?
10. What can you thank God for in this situation?
Possible things you’ll need to accept: that you can’t go back and change what you did or didn’t do, that your actions sometimes hurt others, that you can’t fix everything in life, that you may need to live with the consequences of your actions, and that sometimes you’ll make bad choices in life—everyone does. Just remember, God can redeem anything.
Possible things you’ll need to confess: not doing something God wanted you to do, doing something God didn’t want you to do, and making something more important than God wants you to make it.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:1-2 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Philippians 4:11b-13 I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Just realized I should have included in possible things you may need to accept: that you can’t always make perfect decisions. Didn’t realize this section was more geared to things we’ve done wrong! Oh the problems of being a writer – you can never just read something you wrote without wanting to edit it!
Even what the enemy intends for bad, God will use for good. I am truly thankful that God’s ways are not my ways, and as far as the heavens are above the earth, so are His ways above mine.
Hi Nick, I will pray for you, and I would very much appreciate your prayers for things my choices set in motion that are still in motion. 2016 can be a year of praying for people and situations as if we are the only ones who are. You’re right. Prayer changes circumstances and it changes us. Thank you and God bless.