No Regrets

No Regrets

Life is a battle.

Sometimes the battle is more in my mind and heart than in the world where I live.

To do or not to do? Was I wrong or right? Could I have done it differently or better? These are questions I am tempted to ask myself all the time. And if I don’t watch it, I will camp here.

Not a good thing.

Praying and pondering is a good thing. Seeking the Lord’s guidance, well, what could be better? But at some point, we’re required to “do,” to move forward. If you’re like me, I do take action and then replay the entire scenario in my mind, question how I did something, wonder if I could have done better, and then sometimes even ponder forever over whether it was the right thing to do.

In the Army, they have something called an AAR (After Action Report). Following an event or exercise, they go back, make notes, and write feedback. These are helpful because if and when these things are required again they ideally do it better the second time—that is if folks actually read the AAR.

In real life, an AAR is helpful. Even as individuals we really desire to do things better the next time or help keep others from making the same mistakes we do. These are good things. But there is some line in there where it goes from being an AAR to being a list of regrets.

This is not good.

Last time I checked I was pretty human, making mistakes on a regular basis. I have yet to follow the Lord perfectly every time. I know you’re shocked.

Dwelling on those mistakes, replaying them over and over can take me from a life of abundance and grace to a heart of failure and fear. In about two seconds.

Fear then keeps me from wholeheartedly doing what God has called me to do. It’s a cycle none of us desires, but one in which we can easily get stuck.

But how do we go from the AAR to moving forward in faith, skipping the sinkhole of regret?

It comes down to one easy word that we have a hard time getting our brain around. It’s called grace. God extends it so freely to us on a regular basis. We extend it to others pretty regularly as well, but we don’t necessarily extend it to ourselves very well.

Today, let’s do that. Realizing that we are human and desiring to do better the next time than we did the last, let’s step forward in faith and hope, trusting that God can take even our worst day and do something good with it. We have to remember, too, that God is looking at our heart and not necessarily our actions.

King David is a great example of this. Dude messed up. Over and over and over. He didn’t just mess up in little things, he had some zingers! But God saw David’s heart. It tells us just that in Acts 13:22, “And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’”

Even in the midst of all of David’s failures, God took an ordinary life and created an extraordinary legacy.

Can you say Jesus?

If He can do that for David, He can do it for me. I don’t desire to mess up regularly, but I know that I will. Today, I am determined to live a life without regret. I want a life that learns from the past but still has courage and faith to step forward into the future, knowing He has called me to more.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

 

Talk to Yourself

Talk to Yourself

Scared and wide-awake, I find myself lying awake in the middle of the night from a bad dream. My heart is pumping a mile a minute and every time I close my eyes the dream starts to repeat itself. I hate that. I really do.

How do you get rid of that feeling and those thoughts?

My mom gave me a great trick when I was younger. Home alone as a teenager, the phone rang. It was a not-so-nice phone call from a man I did not know. Scary, right? Except it was the time before caller ID. So when the phone rang again minutes later, I answered again.

Same guy.

I was really scared now.

I hung up and called my mom. She was miles away and could not be there in person, but her advice gave me more than that. She told me to pull out my Bible and read. She was right.

Scripture changes everything.

That day Scripture changed my heart and turned my fear to peace.

Only God can do that.

As I have grown, I have taken it a step further and challenged my children to do the same. Those moments when I am scared to death, I can read Scripture, yes. But what I find is even more helpful, is to talk to myself.

That’s right – talk out loud.

I read or quote Scripture out loud or sing a hymn (I love the theology of some of them!) and I talk to myself. It sounds crazy at first, but it’s not really. If I do things in my mind, my mind gets distracted and I’m back where I started. If I talk out loud I have to concentrate. Additionally, I think the words or Scripture, I say the words of Scripture, and I hear the words of Scripture.

If I do this enough, it seeps into my heart and soul and Jesus with His Truth brings peace again.

So I challenge you to try it today.

Are you worried about something? Anxious, scared? Try it. I promise. First, Scripture changes things – changes us. Second, we have to remind ourselves of that Truth, especially in times we start to forget.

So – talk to yourself. I dare you.

Obedience

Obedience

So not my favorite word.

One word can bring excitement and fear, energy and weariness, hope and pessimism, joy and sadness. No doubt it does the same to you. God asks us to do some things that are crazy, hard, inconvenient, and uncomfortable. The outcomes of those things can be good or not, and we may not even see the outcome at all.

Are we sure we did the right thing? Did we do it well enough?

We all know half-hearted obedience is not obedience at all. Surely your parents told you such things…or you’ve said them to other short people.  God says the same. We’re not halfway in when following Jesus.

He expects – and DESERVES – wholehearted obedience. Regardless.

 

Regardless of:

Reaction

We encounter lots of people and circumstances in our lifetimes. Very few will react the way we want or expect them to in any given situation. The same is true when we are being obedient to the Lord. Reactions are the immediate replies we encounter.

Example: I tell my children after running multiple errands and a long day that we are back home to stay for the evening. A friend calls and needs some help. We need to be there. I tell the kids to put their shoes on so we can head out. Their reaction is the first words out of their mouths after hearing the news.

Reactions can be a bit intimidating. They can be strong, good or bad, but they are the immediate reply of our heart without thought or processing.

In our obedience to the Lord, we are not responsible for their reactions of others. We are simply called to do what God said to do.  

Response

Different than a reaction, a response is the reply after folks have had time to process information, possibly ask questions, and ponder their feedback. Responses can be just as strong if not stronger than reactions. With a response can come excuses, reasoning, research, etc.

Example: Once my sweet children are in the car and we are headed to our friends, their response is their attitude and words as we go. They’ve had time to think about what we are doing and why, ask questions (sometimes a million) and have a response to it all.

Responses too can be intimidating, especially if they are not what we expected. They are the processed output in response to words or actions of others.

Again, in our obedience to the Lord, we are not responsible for the responses of others. We are simply called to do what God said to do.

Result

This one can be the hardest. We (okay, maybe just me) have visions in our head of what can be and what the Lord could do. It doesn’t always turn out like I expected. This is where relationships could change, visions could crumble, hearts can be broken, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The results of our obedience can be hard to swallow sometimes. We long for good outcomes, encouraging directions, and good fruit, but we don’t always see it.

Example: Taking my children out again to help a friend can result in negative attitudes about the inconvenience of friends or it could instill in their hearts the desire to love others well.

2 john

Results can be encouraging or discouraging and sometimes they can be a long time coming. Just ask some of those patriarchs they list in Hebrews 11. Most of them never saw the full results of their obedience to the Lord. We may never either. God doesn’t promise we will, though. He just says to go.

Again, in our obedience to the Lord, we are not responsible for the results. We are simply called to what God said to do.  

God has called us to obedience – wholehearted, courageous obedience – regardless of reaction, response, or result.

 

May we be faithful to Him today.

I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, in keeping with a command we have received from the Father. So now I urge you, lady-not as if I were writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning-that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love. (2 John 1:4-6)

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** NOTE: This blog is part of a link up over at Planting Roots! Check it out here.