My husband and I were talking this morning about our rapidly advancing ages – I’m 49, he’s 57 – how we’ve traveled this road called “life”, and where it’s taken us. Both of us are also taking college classes to further our careers or take them in a new direction as the case may be, and I asked him, “Don’t you wish you’d have signed up a couple years ago when I tried to talk you into it?” His reply was a resounding, “Oh yes! I’d be a lot farther along right now. Almost done, actually!”
That conversation brought me to this train of thought, and I’ll share it with you if you’ll let me; Nowadays we often see people saying, “No Regrets!” & “You Only Live Once!” which – to me – translates to “Whateva! I do what I want!” and gives no room for lessons to be learned, and only attempts to justify bad decisions and mistakes to be repeated. This is dangerous ground to tread upon. Why?
Let me give you an example of what happened to a very real friend of mine. For the purpose of this example, we will call him Tom.
Tom goes through life, throwing caution to the wind, drinking copious quantities of alcohol, smoking, using drugs, and generally behaving in ways that are a detriment to himself and others around him. When bad things happen to him, and they frequently do – he goes around shouting about how unfair his life is, and how he doesn’t need anyone to tell him what he should and shouldn’t do. He makes one bad decision after another that usually result in lost jobs, broken relationships, loss of privileges and property, and even being arrested multiple times. This man has lived by the idioms we have previously referenced; “No Regrets!”, “You Only Live Once!”, “Whateva! I do what I want!” Finally, our friend Tom reaches his lowest point by placing his family in jeopardy, and goes to jail for a bit longer, and this time, it’s serious.
Now the thing you need to know, is that deep down under all that bad behavior, Tom is a great guy who loves his family, believes in God, and wants to do well. However, he is a misguided soul who had a lot of really bad things happen to him early in life, and those things have had their effect on him.
But Tom made another mistake and this time, it’s a big one. Tom loses everything. His freedom, his family, his job, his dignity, and even his faith for a time. Tom found out that if you live like there are no rules, someone, somehow, sometime – will show you you’re wrong, and it’s gonna hurt.
Fortunately for Tom, he finally woke up to the things he’d been doing wrong and learned his lessons. His freedom was eventually restored, though there are some restrictions on him. His family was restored, and though his job was not restored, he went into business for himself and took a better, more productive path to life in general. His faith in God was restored, and he has since lived a clean, calm, and happier life, in which he has become a much better husband, father & friend. He does all he can to show the Lord his appreciation and faith by going to church, reading the bible, praising God, and spreading the word. Tom is finally the great guy everyone always knew he could be. Tom hasn’t stopped there. He is constantly trying to learn new things and better himself in every way. Tom’s a nice guy.
Does Tom still regret his previous behavior? Of course! In fact, he tends to live by the idiom: “Those who forget their past are condemned to repeat it.” does that mean he dwells on his mistakes and constantly laments them? No. Why? Because the bible tells us several things about our sins and how God handles them. Take a look:
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Philippians 3:13 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Psalm 34:4-5 “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
So we don’t need to live in a constant state of condemnation in order to be forgiven, but we DO have to do a few things:
- STOP doing things that God says are sin
- ASK for forgiveness
- LEARN from our mistakes
- DON’T repeat our bad decisions
- TRY our best everyday, to do good for God, Ourselves, and Others
- REMEMBER that no matter what – God loves you. So much so, that he that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him would not perish, but have eternal life – John 3:16.
God is a god of peace. He wants all of us to have peace, but we need to put in a little effort for that to happen. So in closing, I want to leave you with this – Philippians 4:7 – “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“
So yes – You Only Live Once – Live smart.
C.A. Bennett – Writer