Today’s Devotional Thought:
2 Corinthians 7:10, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
Regrets…I’ve had a few. I think that is how the song goes. I know that is how life goes. What's your biggest regret in life? If it's anything like these random New Yorkers in the video, it has one very important word in it. Students from Strayer University set up a chalkboard on the sidewalk near Lieutenant Petrosino Square in New York City for one day. At the top of the board was written, "Write your biggest regret." They provided a supply of colored chalk and set up a video camera to record people writing on the board.
It wasn't long before the board was full. That’s true for our lives. Our lives are like that chalkboard. Our chalkboards begin blank, clean. As we grow and get older slowly but surely they begin to fill. That time you lied to your parents to go to that party. That time you cheated on the test. The time you said those words you couldn’t take back. That time you turned your back upon your friend. The list goes on and on. Our regrets are like a weight that pulls us down, clouds our conscience, breaks our hearts. What can be done?
Max Lucado, in his book, Grace, tells the following story: A Chinese man named Li Fuyan had tried every treatment imaginable to ease his throbbing headaches. Nothing helped. An X-ray finally revealed the culprit. A rusty four-inch knife blade had been lodged in his skull for four years. In an attack by a robber, Fuyan had suffered lacerations on the right side of his jaw. He didn't know the blade had broken off inside his head. No wonder he suffered from such stabbing pain.
Lucado comments: “We can't live with foreign objects buried in our bodies. Or our souls. What would an X-ray of your interior reveal? Regrets over an [earlier] relationship? Remorse over a poor choice? Shame about the marriage that didn't work, the habit you couldn't quit, the temptation you didn't resist, or the courage you couldn't find? Guilt lies hidden beneath the surface, festering, irritating. Sometimes so deeply embedded you don't know the cause.” [Max Lucado, Grace (Thomas Nelson, 2012), p. 94]
We may not know the cause but God knows the cure. It is because of what Jesus did for us on the cross and what he did when he walked out of the the tomb. Jesus says in John 8:34-36, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus will set you free from the guilt of your sins, free from your regrets. Paul tells us the key is the type of repentance (a change of mind that leads to a change of direction) that leads us to the cross and brings us through the empty tomb.
In the video, as the board filled up with so many different stories, they noticed that almost all of these regrets had one thing in common. Nearly all of them involved the word "not." They were about chances not taken. They were about words not spoken. They were about dreams never pursued.
But then they gave these same people an eraser and wrote "Clean Slate" at the top of the chalkboard. As she erased her regret one young woman had tears in her eyes as she said, "I feel hopeful. It means that there are possibilities.” When you come to the cross and find the tomb empty it means there are possibilities. The possibility of freedom from regret and guilt.
Today God can take your “not” and erase it with His “not.” Whatever your “not” is, God’s “not” is bigger: “The angel said... He is NOT here; he has risen just as he said” (Matthew 28:6, emphasis mine).
Prayer: Our Holy Father, you grant us victory through the empty tomb. Victory over death. Victory over sin. Victory over our regrets. We confess before You we are sinners and we trust in your solution to our failures, Jesus Christ. Help us today to accept his grace and find real freedom. He is our hope. In Jesus we pray, amen.