If I had only known then, what I do know now: dealing with failure and regrets as a Christian

If I had only known then what I know now, would things be any different? And if so, and what would I change, or do differently? And would it have made any difference?

· Some folks say “If I had it to do differently, or to do my life over, I would not change a thing”. For me, personally, I can’t say that. I wish I could, but I can’t. I’d have done a lot of things different, had I known THEN what I do know now. 

  I knew a girl once who liked to say “everything happens for a reason”. Her implication being that whatever happens, good or bad, comes from God.
That way of thinking is sometimes referred to as “the god of circumstance or coincidence” Well, I don’t agree with that. Never have, never will.

· The Bible says “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord” Psalms 37;23-26.
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· That is a fact. As far as the steps of an unrighteous man, or a carnal Christian, I think “we reap what we sow” is as close to describing the results as I can readily recall.

· I believe we, as Christians, and finite human beings, have much more liberty and control over our lives and our circumstances, and our fate, then we give ourselves credit for. “Everything happens for a reason” is a cop out. It’s not always God’s fault.

· I believe God gives us much more freedom and liberty to succeed or fail in life than we want to credit him with. Often times, we credit God with things that happen as a direct result OUR BAD choices, and of What ADAM did. HIS CHOICE, not God’s will.

· I saw a post on Facebook a few days ago that said “if God brings you to it, he will bring you through it” well, my immediate response was “what if God DIDN’T bring me to it”? What if my circumstances and situation at the moment is all MY FAULT, not God’s? what then?

· A friend of mine was telling me some time ago about her son who, in her words “has a calling on his life from God, but he’s fighting it”. Well, I took that with a grain of salt. I believe God puts a desire in every believer’s heart, it’s OUR decision whether we choose to listen. God is not a respecter of persons, and a man or woman’s “calling” is directly proportionate to the energy, devotion, and study that they commit to it. God calls ALL men, so therefore, “where a man’s heart is, so is his treasure ” Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also. be Matthew 12;34.

· Well, a few weeks later, she tells me the man got caught cheating on his wife, had a bad wreck, and a whole bunch of other calamities and troubles in his life on him at the moment, including the death of a family member. “The Lord’s dealing with him” she said. As if to say God had singled him out, and was somehow singling him out, and punishing him for his misdeeds. Again, I did not see any agreement in that at all. God is not a respecter of persons, and the way I see it, the man was reaping what he has sown. He didn’t have to share any credit for his circumstances. He could take full credit for the whole mess.

· I reason that it rains on everybody. We all have to deal with death,woes and calamities near and far, good or evil,friend and foe. As far as the man cheating, I think if you cheat, or do ANYTHING wrong enough times, LONG enough, you are going to get caught some time or another. God doesn’t have to assist us in getting caught. Were perfectly capable of bad behavior, and the consequences of such behavior without his assistance if such were the case. WE are perfectly able to screw up our lives without God’s assistance. “bad things DO HAPPEN to good people” just as they do bad people. AND good things happen to bad people all the time. “the wicked prosper” “Why do the wicked go on living, grow old, and even become more powerful? Job 21;7 and bad people also complain when bad things happen to them.

· After I reasoned this out in my heart, but not saying anything one way or the other, I asked her “so I guess a divorce is in his future huh?”. She says “no, his wife’s forgiven him, she’s going to try to work it out.” I wondered if,and how a man could get so repentant after being caught red handed, but I didn’t say anything. Later on in the conversation, I asked her if she thought her son was still “called to preach”, and reminded her of the scriptures regarding pastors, deacons and elders. She only said “if I had known then what I know now, I don’t believe I would have said that”.
I have often heard people say “if I had my life to do over again, I wouldn’t change a thing” well, good for them, I can’t say that. I would have done a lot of things differently.
How many times in our life have we all said that?, or thought the same thing? How many times have we regretted past decisions and words spoken inappropriately? How many times have we all wanted to have a “do over” after learning something we didn’t know before. How many of us have wanted to retrace our steps? Do a lot of things different? Well. Fact is, we CAN’T. We can’t go back, we can’t change it. We can only move on, we can only go forward. The only thing we can hang onto is regret, and regret can destroy us. We mustn’t let that happen. I think the guilt and regret of the past most often lingers, and does as much emotional damage, as the actions of the past themselves.

· As a Bible study leader at a local rehabilitation center, I used to see alcoholics, and drug addicts every week. Many had made a total mess of their lives. They did it all by themselves. They can take full credit for it. The biggest thing outside overcoming the addiction is dealing with the regrets,guilt,and the emotional and financial damage many have inflicted upon their families. Because of their past failures, many of these drug addicts and alcoholics did not believe God could save them. “I’ve sinned too much” they’ve told me. Many SOBER folks don’t think they are good enough for salvation. The fact of the matter is, none of us are.

· I have a family member who is a drug addict. He stays locked up most of the time. At least then, we know He’s taken care of. He’s been on the streets most of his life. He will literally sell the shoes off his feet for dope. The family has tried numerous times to help him through the years. Clothes, furniture, apartments, bedding, money. It all went to drugs. Most times, when I would go to see him, he would barely have a chair to sit in, or a TV to watch. In his case, I don’t see it as “everything happens for a reason” he’s the victim of his own self-created circumstances.

· This is the same brother who stepped forward with me at Gospel Baptist Church 35 years ago, and asked Jesus into his heart. And there is not a thing I can do to help him. Don’t ever condemn or judge someone who is dealing with a drug addict unless you have been down that road yourself. What may appear as cruel, or callous and uncaring to one, may be the only way the person has left to deal with the situation.. My brother has never been charged with stealing, or robbery, or mugging, or any violent crimes. It’s always been possession, or loitering, or trespassing. He’s got plenty of sense when he’s sober. I sometimes wonder if he ever says “if I had known then, what I do know now” If he had known the damage that first shot of dope was going to do to him, he would have never taken it. If he had only known. I know if he had known, he’d never had taken it. I’m sure he had no idea the power of the drugs he was “Casually using”. Most of us are the same way as he is. Many of us, had we known, or even considered the results of actions we took, and things we did long ago, would never have done it.

· I watch my kids make mistakes. I see my friends make mistakes. You don’t know what it’s like to pick that cat up by the tail until you have done it. No one can explain or describe it to you. You can warn your friends and family all day, but most often, they are going to do what they set out to do in the first place. That’s human nature. You can only love them through it, and be there for them. God loves us through things as well, and he’s always on the other side when we come to ourselves. Proverbs 12;15 says “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” How many of us have wished we had sought advice, and LISTENED to it in times past?.

· How many times in our life, have we said something we regretted because we “didn’t know then what we do know now”? James 1;19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. I find that about 90% of what we hear has about two more handles on the bucket than the one your’e toting it with. And about 90% of the time, if we speak too soon on a matter, were going to find we didn’t know the whole story to begin with, and we usually wind up regretting it because we “didn’t know then, what we do know now”.

· Here’s a few examples of a men who , if he had Known then, what he found out later, would have never did what he did. Often times, when we seek a selfish desire, we have a very shortsighted view of the consequences of our actions. Our short sighted decisions are like a ripple in a pond, and most often, the ripples linger long after the rocks hit the water. And those ripples go in all directions until they hit something, and THEN THEY RETURN.

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Let us read 2 Samuel 11:1-4.

· Now let’s look at the consequences of David’s actions.
· One must remember that David was a King. He was in authority over God’s people, and by extension, his actions affected the whole nation.
· First, his sin caused two deaths, Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba to cover his sin of adultery, and the child of the union between David and Bathsheba, as a result of God’s Judgement of his sin.
· Now let’s look at Bathsheba. Here she is, dealing with the death of her husband, and with child by another man, the KING of Israel of all people.
· God pronounced judgment on David, and his household, telling him “the sword would never leave his house”
· Next, the Child of Bathsheba was to die as part of the Judgment and results of David’s sins.
· David’s son tried to usurp his throne, and raped his own sister.

· In all of this, God was right there. He never forsook David. David suffered at his own hand. He suffered, rightly so, for his own bad decisions, and his own sins. What is unique about it, is that he took full responsibility for his actions. Never once was he mad at God. Never once did he ever try to fault someone else. I’m reminded of Adam’s words “the woman that thou gave to be with me gave it to me, and I did eat”. David never blamed Bathsheba. Never once did he fault anyone but himself. That’s honorable. That’s why David was a man after Gods own heart. Most often, folks study this particular passage from the standpoint of David, and how it affected HIM. Rarely do I ever hear, or see a commentary on Bathsheba. I wonder if she ever thought “if I had only knew then, what I do know now”. I wonder if she ever had any idea of the consequences of her actions. Here she was. A widow, with child out of wedlock, and this child DIES. She buried two family members in less than a year. And the family knew how to add and subtract. They weren’t dummies back then. One only needs to count the days from a child’s birth to determine what day it was conceived. 99 days from a child’s birthday will normally be the day it was conceived, within a day or so. And they all could go back and figure that Uriah was in the field during that time. I wonder if she thought about this the day she took the bath on the rooftop, well aware of who would see her. She KNEW David would look. Why do I say this? Well, it’s pretty logical actually if you think about it. I have never saw a woman who did not place modesty and privacy above all else when she was taking a bath. That is the FOREMOST thing on her mind ALWAYS. Any woman will agree with that statement.

I wonder if Bathsheba, looking at the things that happened in her life, and in her relationship with David, ever wished she could go back. I wonder if she ever wished she had “known then, what she does know now“
Looking at the things that happened in David’s life over the next 50 or so years, I wonder how many times he regretted his sin of adultery with Bathsheba. I wonder if he ever wished “if I had only known then, what I do know now”

· Later on, David sang songs of praise to God for staying by him through all his sins, his shortcomings, and his failures. God will do the same for us.

One of my favorite songs is an old Kenny Chesney song. It goes something like this “people say they wouldn’t change a thing, even if they could…oh but I would…I’d have done a lot of things different”. Well, we can’t change the past, let’s just make the best of the present, and not let guilt and regret get the best of us. God will love us through it all. Focus on your forgiveness, not your failures. Focus on God’s grace, not your guilt, focus on your salvation, not your sins, and finally , focus on Christ’s work, not your own, and rest in his grace and mercy. In resting, you will experience the peace and serenity God meant for you to have.

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