“And I don’t regret the rain,
And the nights I felt the pain,
And the tears I had to cry some
of those times along the way.
Every road I had to take,
Every time my heart would break -
It was just something that I had to get through
To get me to you…”
As sung by Lila McCann,
“To Get Me To You”
[Hope Floats Soundtrack]
Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. (Luke 17:11-24)
Do you think that the prodigal son regretted the nights that he spent in the pigpen? Do you think that deep down he realized that it was his own deliberate choices that landed him there? Do you think that he knew that it was a road that he did not really have to take?
Yeah. Me too. What's more, I can relate to him because of those regrets. There are messes that I have made in my life that were because I deliberately and willingly chose to go a way that was not God-pleasing. There are so many lessons I've learned that when I think about it I wish I hadn't chosen the hard way to learn them!
"Good" self-esteem tells us that we shouldn't have regrets. It says that the correct answer is something like "those hard times have made me who I am and I wouldn't change them because that would change me." There are most definitely circumstances in our life that we have no control over that God will use to mold us into His image. Infertility, illness, loss of jobs due to mass lay-offs, etc are times where we have no control. God will take those terribly difficult circumstances and draw us nearer Him and make us better ministers of His care. He draws us near Him in our pain. Those are not the things I'm talking about. I'm speaking of the times when we know the better way, and we choose the selfish. And because we choose the selfish, God takes the opportunity to discipline us back into His arms. Those are the things I regret, the lessons He had to teach me in the arms of discipline instead of walking in the path of obedience. But, you want to know the greatest thing about those regrets? Even those regrets are covered by God's grace. Just as the father was watching for his prodigal son, my Father welcomes His prodigal daughter home every single time. He tends to the scars of my selfishness and helps me inscribe the lesson on my heart. Then He forgives, and sends me out to try and help other wayward children find their way home. Even regrets are used in His kingdom. How amazing is that!
What do you regret? If it was of no choice of your own, let God draw you near and tend to your hurt. If the regret is because of your choices, run home and allow Him to refresh you in His grace. Either way, He is waiting for you.
Father God, thank you for always welcoming this wayward child home. Thank you for not wasting the lessons I have learned, but instead being faithful to allow me to minister to others on similar paths. Help me to choose the right paths and stay close to you in obedience. And when there are regrets, prick my heart to want to come home sooner. Because of the blood of Jesus......Amen.
Michelle is the hostess for In Other Words this week. Please join us for further discussion of the song lyrics above.