Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19
We regret our offenses:
hurts we have caused
sins we've committed
walls we've built up toward others
We regret our missed opportunities:
to take advantage of new, though frightening, possibilities
to choose love in difficult relationships
to die to our own selfishness in order to serve
And the lists go on...and the regrets can eat you alive
...maybe because we can't believe we were so selfish or foolish!
...maybe because we can't undo them!
...maybe because those opportunities are gone forever!
But whatever the regret or the reason, if we are to begin afresh in the NEW YEAR, we need to put the past to rest...to rest, that is, in the hands of our Sovereign Father God.
Oswald Chambers says it well, speaking of the regret Christ's disciples must have felt when they didn't watch and pray with the Lord...
In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realized what they had done it produced despair [...regret?].
The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, "Well, it’s all over and ruined now; what’s the point in trying anymore." If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair.
But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, "Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing."
In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.
There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them.
The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing— they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, “Get up, and do the next thing.”
If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption. Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.
Jesus is in the redeeming and renewing business. He has promises that are sure:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:7-9
So we can flip the page of the calendar to this new year...trusting that our Sovereign God is weaving everything in our lives-- past, present, and future--including our faults, failures, and yes, even our sin (because of His grace) into the beautiful tapestry of His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3-14: Romans 8:28-39).
My life is like a weaving Between my Lord and me I do not chose the colors He worketh patiently Sometimes He weaveth sorrow And I in foolish pride Forgets He sees the upper And I the underside
Not till the loom is silent And the shuttles cease to fly Shall God unroll the canvas And explain the reasons why The dark threads are as needful In the Weaver's skillful hand As the threads of gold and silver In the pattern He has planned