Regret will eat your life, if you let it.
After a couple of significant falls, I’ve made a note in my journal for January 11: stay in bed.
On that date in 1998, my foot slipped in the church parking lot. I landed on the hard asphalt and broke my right wrist. Five weeks in a cast. Problematic…I’m right-handed.
Last year on the nineteenth anniversary of that fall, my foot slipped at the gym when I stepped on a treadmill someone had left running. My right shoulder hit the floor first, causing a complete tear in my rotator cuff. Surgery, six weeks in an immobilizer, and physical therapy. Problematic.
Next January 11, I’m thinking the bed is my safe place.
When we fall, our first reaction is to look around, wondering if anyone saw it. Then we scramble to our feet—if able—and walk (or limp) on as if nothing happened.
Have you ever slipped in your Christian walk?
Fell down hard. Barely enough strength to get up. Did anyone notice? You tried to keep going, as if nothing happened. But something did happen. And you’re limping under the load of regret.
What do you do after such a fall? You slipped. It’s on the record. You can’t hit the delete button. You don’t get a do-over. How do you deal with regret?What do you do after a fall? You slipped. It's on the record. You can’t hit the delete button. You don’t get a do-over. How do you deal with regret? Click To Tweet
If anybody needed a do-over, King David surely did. You know his story. The young giant-slayer became Israel’s second king and a mighty warrior.
During a break from battle, he tarried in Jerusalem when he should have been out with his troops. One evening he rose from bed and took a walk on the roof. From there he could see a woman bathing—a beautiful woman. He asked about her and learned she had a husband, Uriah, who was away in battle.
David sent for her and slept with her. When Bathsheba sent word that she was pregnant, the king devised a scheme to make it appear the child belonged to Uriah. He sent for the warrior to come home. The man would sleep with his wife and no one would suspect David had been involved with her.
But Uriah—an honorable man—couldn’t enjoy the pleasures of home while his men were at war. Instead of going home, he slept at the door of the king’s house with his servants.
In a second attempt to cover his sin, David got Uriah drunk—but he still wouldn’t go home. Again he slept at the king’s door with his servants.
Panicked, David formed a deadly plan. He sent Uriah back to battle with orders from the king to his commander, Joab, to place Uriah “in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” After receiving news of Uriah’s death, David sent for Bathsheba to become his wife.
It looked like the king got away with murder…until Nathan the prophet confronted him with his sin. The child born of that adulterous relationship died. But God chose the second child of David and Bathsheba, Solomon, to succeed his father as king and endowed him with wisdom greater than anyone else on earth (see 2 Samuel 11-12 and 1 Kings 3).
David slipped. It was on the record. He couldn’t hit the delete button. He didn’t get a do-over. How did he deal with regret?
David wrote, “You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you” (Psalm 69:5). “…My sins have overtaken me…” (Psalm 40:12). “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear” (Psalm 38:4).
Psalm 51 records his prayer of repentance. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…Cleanse me…wash me…Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice… Restore to me the joy of your salvation…Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you…my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise…the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
How King David dealt with regret and moved beyond a past he couldn’t change:
- He confessed his sin.
- He accepted God’s forgiveness.
- He spent the rest of his life honoring God.
David failed miserably. He didn’t get a do-over, but he got mercy and forgiveness. And he went forward serving the Lord faithfully. How do we know that?
“For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:5). After ruling over Israel for forty years, he “died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honor” (1 Chronicles 29:28).
Is there a Uriah-the-Hittite incident in your life? Don’t let past failure paralyze you.Is there a Uriah-the-Hittite incident in your life? Don’t let past failure paralyze you. Click To Tweet
God provides spiritual soap to cleanse the filth: 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Regret wears more than one face—sorrow because of what we did…and sorrow because of what we didn’t do. Who hasn’t cried, “If only…I wish I had…why didn’t I?”
Whether the matter that troubles you is something you’ve done or left undone, whether it’s great or small, don’t let it eat your life. Confess it; accept God’s forgiveness; forgive yourself and go forward living for God’s glory. Let these verses be your daily prayer and confidence.
“Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not” (Psalm 17:5 KJV).
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24 KJV).
Have these thoughts encouraged you? I’d love to hear your comments. And please share this with your friends!
Scripture references NIV unless noted.
© Dianne Barker 2018.