The Reality of Regret

Let us . . . lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
—Hebrews 12:1

If you want to experience a regret-free life, you need to understand the reality of regret.

My father was a dedicated Christian, he was successful in his vocation, and he had a family that loved him. One day he wasn’t feeling well, so he went to the doctor. They did some tests and said, “You have pancreatic cancer, and you have four months to live.” During those last four months of my dad’s life, he poured out a list of “if onlys.” If only he had taken certain trips he wanted to take. If only he had maximized certain career opportunities. If only he had said or not said certain things to people he loved. As I listened to my dad, I realized the power of regrets to extinguish the joy of an otherwise successful life.

By the way, regrets are not reserved for the dying. Many times a milestone event in life causes us to realize we have regrets. A child’s graduation makes us regret, “If only I had spent more time with her before she left.” Perhaps a divorce or breakup causes us to lament, “If only I had spent time strengthening that relationship.” Or a termination from a job makes us say, “If only I had applied myself more at work.”

Sometimes it doesn’t even take a milestone event for us to have regrets. A few years ago I was leading a men’s Bible study and asked participants to list their three greatest regrets in life. They said, “I regret I didn’t finish college.” “I wish I had spent more time with my wife and children.” “I wish I had pursued my dream of being a professional baseball player.” “I wish I had become a Christian earlier.” What amazed me about this exercise was how quickly the men were able to list their regrets. Nobody was staring into space trying to think of something to write down. Their regrets were at the forefront of their minds.

God’s Word tells us we are to remove anything that prevents us from living the life He has designed for us. In Hebrews 12:1, the writer says, “Since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” As we pursue God’s will for our lives, we need to lay aside anything that hinders us from living the life God wants for us. And nothing will weigh you down any more than regrets. Regrets keep us from pursuing the kind of life God wants us to live. Lay aside your regrets.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living without Regrets” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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