Dec 26, 2014

Live Without Regret

A close friend received a call no one wants to receive on Christmas Day: a sick family member had just died. The person went to the hospital on Monday, but was expected to live another few weeks or months. My friend felt like maybe she should have gone to see him right away, but she didn't. 

Immediately thoughts bombarded her.

“You should have gone to visit on Tuesday.”
“Why didn’t you go?”
“If he didn’t know Jesus, it’s your fault.”
“Now it’s too late.”

When I talked to her, I told her the enemy just wanted her to feel guilty. After all, she asked both a chaplain and a local family member to visit him and share the Gospel. The chaplain went but didn’t directly share, and the family member hadn’t gone yet. Neither of those things were under her control. 

I assured her she did all she could.

Or did she?

As I later prayed about our conversation, I realized I may have spoken too quickly. Yes, the enemy definitely wanted to heap condemnation and guilt on her…along with fear that the same thing could happen to other family members if she doesn’t rush out and speak to them.

But maybe God did nudge my friend to visit on Tuesday and share the gospel. Maybe she missed an opportunity that can never be regained.

What then? How does she sort all this out?

Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while—yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10 NIV, emphasis mine)

As I read this passage, I pondered how sorrow over something like a missed opportunity can leave no regret. How does she, or any of us, live without regret over any mistake, especially when a mistake involves a missed opportunity to share the Gospel?

And how do we know if it's the enemy that whispered to us, or God?

Does it matter?

Yes, I believe it matters. God once told me, “If you don’t call it sin, you can’t take it to the cross.” When we use words like, “I made a mistake,” instead of “I sinned,” or we attribute all negative thoughts to the enemy, I believe we block God's saving grace through Jesus from working in our lives. 

Paul laments in Romans, “I do what I don’t want to do, and what I want to do I don’t do” (see Romans 7:15-24). Then he provides the answer to his dilemma in verse 25:

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Jesus wants us to confess our sins and allow Him to cleanse us (1 John 1:9). He wants us to take the sorrow, pain, guilt and regret to the cross, and leave them there. He wants us to acknowledge we can’t change our past, and leave it in His hands. He wants to renew our hearts, minds, and spirits with His saving grace, and comfort our sorrow with His love.

Instead of trying to help my friend by making her feel better, I needed to pray with her for God’s truth. Without His truth, any “feeling better” would be temporary at best. 

God is bigger than our sin. If it was up to us to get people to heaven by our always-obedient actions, heaven would be a lonely place. We all need to put our hope and trust in Him and what He did on the cross, not in anything about ourselves or what we do/have done. The song “Who Am I” by Casting Crowns says it all. Take a few minutes and listen

Then, and only then, can we live without regret.

QUESTION(S) TO PONDER: Are you carrying around regret over things from your past? What did Jesus show you as you read this blog?  I’d like to hear your comments – please share!


  1. I have been in a similar situation. While I won't know, this side of Heaven, whether it was a Holy Spirit nudge or not, I DO know God can & does speak to a person's spirit--whether they are awake or in a coma. That is the Grace I lean on. Praying your friend finds His Peace this year

    1. Thanks, Cyn! Yes, we'll never know some things this side of heaven. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, whether disobedience or anything else, and brings us peace when we've confessed and received forgiveness. And yes, His grace is amazing, and is available to all who are seeking Him, whether or not they know He's who they seek, and whether or not any human says the words to them :-). Thank God, He's bigger than any of our sins


Thank you for your G-rated comments!