As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.
Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.
–Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, December 31
Do you have things in your past that you regret? I know I do. Missed opportunities, wasted time and energy, failures, sinful decisions–so many things to regret. I think it is the rare person who doesn’t regularly have a regret or two.
When I was twenty years old, I came to a realization that I had chosen the wrong major in college. I had made the choice in good faith with the counsel of others, but about two thirds of the way through my four year course, it dawned on me that I was studying subjects for which I only had a slight ability and liking rather than studying the subjects for which I had a true aptitude . However, it was too late to change majors without adding an extra two years onto my college career. I toughed it out the last year and a half, earned my degree, and got a job. It wasn’t until many years later that I was able to study and work in a field for which I had a great capability and which I loved. Do I regret that initial decision to study the wrong subject? Yes, I do sometimes. I wonder what my life would have looked like had I chosen a more fitting major or changed my major when I first realized my error. I wonder what paths I would have pursued instead of the ones I walked. I could spent a lot of time regretting the ways not chosen, but is that a constructive way to live?
I believe that it is not a good use of my time to rue the past. Instead, I must remember the good news that our God takes those regrets, the things in the past which I should have done but didn’t or should not have done but did, what Oswald Chambers calls the “irreparable things” and He redeems them. The Lord somehow, in a way that is beyond my comprehension and knowledge, makes those regrettable words, deeds, and thoughts work for good in my life, in my loved ones’ lives, in His kingdom.
It is so easy to fall prey to guilt and depression when we think of all of the things we could have done or should have done. We question if our life will be all that it could have been since we made a certain choice or turned in a direction that we now see so clearly was wrong.
Yet we have a Sovereign Lord who holds the whole world in His hands and who also knows our entire story from beginning to end. Wonder at the fact that He is in control not only of the planets and the stars, the atoms and the molecules but also of your irreparable past. Believe that He has a purpose for that past that seems so wrong and look forward to the promise of the future where He will never leave you nor forsake you. And keep in mind Julian of Norwich’s words, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”