As night falls upon the hills ushering the last tangerine patches of lights to sit and wait for their turn to shine again tomorrow, I awake with a sense of disorientation. I don't know how much time has progressed since our last conversation (The Problem with Letting Go) but it surely feels like an eternity. I still don't know where we are headed, but being misinformed of such details doesn't bother me at all. It is the thickness in the atmosphere of my soul that robs my ability of speech and understanding. Writing helps a lot when these cactus emotions come barging in, like a dangerous cowboy entering a saloon. Since we're friends now, I think it would be beneficial to expand on the root of these unnerving feelings. Don't get me wrong, I am hopeful that better days are ahead. I know healing is a process, but regret is one painful thing to administer.
Open My Eyes Lord
And Elisha prayed, "Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
2 Kings 6:17
There's people who live with no regrets, or at least that's what they claim. I kind of sort of possibly want to be them for one day. Wouldn't you too? Other than learning how to love myself, leaving regrets behind has been one of the hardest things to learn. If there would be an Udemy course for it, where I could review the material as many times as I want, then it would be easier to let go. I guess the best way to learn is through life college. At least you don't have to pay back with interest. My constant avoidance of the topic can easily be compared with a hesitant large dog who is afraid of baths. Nevertheless, the good Lord has been pulling my hind legs towards a divine bathtub called redemption because my arrogance has tried to convince me that there's no hope. His patience is unmeasurable, but my unwillingness has been childish and disrespectful towards change. I could just imagine Jesus, being so loving and calm, as any good pet owner would while I growl and insist to remain unmovable. How can a large dog be afraid of a bathtub? How can a Christian live a life of freedom when there's shame and guilt due to regret? But with salt encrusted deep in my wounds, in this case my eyes, how can I trust that this 'bath' will benefit in any way? It was the exposure of the sea that lead me to a bitter vision in the first place. "I'll never take a bath again” I thought as any hydrophobic Rottweiler would. (Animal lovers: this is just an example. No need to get defensive. Rottweilers are cool.) Only, I am not a Rottweiler nor afraid of water. I am a Child of God who needs to be delivered Pistanthrophobia every now and then. What was the sea? The opportunity for a relationship, an entrepreneur endeavor, the possibility of great moments, walking in integrity, good decisions, divine connections etc. What was the salt? Words I can't take back, unexpressed emotions, partaking in bitter conversations due to offense, what I did, what I didn't do, what I didn't say, rejection, threats, betrayals and the list goes on and on. How was my vision before everything went down? Well, I guess as clear as it can be before the in-crowd bully proceeds to kick sand in your perimeter, unmercifully blinding all optic faculties. You see, I think that's where everything starts; in the eyes. Our vision determines our honest intentions, preferences, and perception in life. It is the "window of the soul" as the cliché expresses. When offense comes into our lives, our vision gets blurred and the severe soreness makes us do stupid decisions due to pain. We are pain's puppets when we get hurt, only we don't know till the side effects are over…or when good friends proceed to smack logical sense into you. If you ever see random bruises on my arms and legs that's why! (Just kidding! I'm very clumsy.) I wonder what was the sea for you, what was the salt, and how was your vision before and after your situation? I'd love to live a life where I am constantly aware that angels are around me, waving glow in the dark batons signaling the nearest exit from a heartbreaking situation. Lord open our eyes to your help when we mess up. Open our eyes.
The 19th chapter of the book of Genesis is probably one of the most disturbing pieces of literature I've ever set my eyes upon. Not because it lacks insight of cultural differences or valuable lessons even with the existence of failure, but because of the mindless actions of its characters. There's two main characters we will be focusing during this study and those are Lot (Yes, as in "it's a lot." As in parking lot. It's weird I know.) and his wife who is nameless. Both finish their lives winning the race of misery due to the decisions they made. I believe the more we seek God, the more wisdom we will obtain and eliminate any chances of a. being enrolled in the misery race and b. getting to the finish line. I don't know what bad decisions you have made in your past, but know that God can forgive you because He desires to do so. Also, wouldn't it be great for once to stop running this misery race? I don’t want regret as the gold medal? Today, let's focus on Lot's wife.
A little context before continuing. (If you know who are the characters, you can skip this part.) So, there was this city called Sodom and Gomorrah. This city was completely messed up, and trust me that's an understatement. The sin of the people of this city was so great that God himself sent angels to destroy it. It was horrible. Lot and his family lived in this town. Due to their behavior, it is implied that their lifestyle was undoubtedly meshed into that ungodly culture. However, Lot was Abraham's nephew. I don't know if you have heard of Abraham. Probably, he was one famous dude in the Old Testament. The point is that God had already expressed to Abraham his intention of destroying the city, but was willing to save Lot and his family because Abraham pleaded God to be merciful. So, God appointed angels to go to Sodom and save this family. The angels came in disguised as travelers, so Lot gave them free Air BNB at his home. After an unfriendly confrontation between the townspeople and Lot, the angels proceeded to warn Lot about the destruction. The angels told Lot bring every family member with him to escape So Lot, took his wife and two daughters and ran for their lives. Expect his wife…
But Lot's wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.
This is one of the saddest verses in the entire bible if you ask me. Now, I don't know about you, but if a firefighter, policeman, ranger, or any authoritarian figure shows up at my door saying to get out of my house and tells me to run in order save my life, I'd do so. Okay all of this makes sense, till the part where it says she became a pillar of salt right? Even that's difficult for me to imagine friend. Three words: raining burning sulfur. You can find that in verse 24. Although the bible does not say that this woman voiced her regret of leaving the city, we can infer that with her actions, she did. But why would a woman with two daughters and a husband not do everything she can to move forward? Why would she look back, knowing what was going to happen? It wasn't like looking back was going to prevent the devastation from taking place. I wonder what was her thought process when this happened.
Do you know where you are standing?
When you read Genesis 19 you will perceive how this woman was practically absent from her family. This detail is kind of strange to me because women were considered less than men and would often stay home. The text narrates that it was Lot who welcomed the angels into his home and prepared bread for them. The cooking was not made by his wife, but him. Also, it states that the altercation between the townspeople and Lot happened during night time. The angels, Lot and his two daughters were mentioned. However, his wife was not home. It is enough to live in a rowdy city where "everything goes" but to not be established at your own home is a whole different thing. Now, I'm not judging her, just observing. The bible doesn't say what type of work she was involved in, but it could've possibly been the fact that she was a prostitute. Maybe she wasn't. Maybe she was just not mentioned when this happened. We'll never know. Sodom was a city that failed to subscribe to God's will, therefore their philosophy was rooted in greed, perversion, and idolatry. This means this family probably distanced themselves from God as they developed their lives there. It's kind of hard to live a life that honors God when you are exposed to all that kind of stuff anyways. Lot's wife was not standing in truth and love.
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
If you think about it sand has a similar consistency as salt. If our foundation is on self-hate and condemnation from others, then we are on that race of misery. Her perception of life was flawed. She loved the city and her lifestyle more than freedom itself. Do you love more that failed relationship than your own mental health? Do you long for a missed opportunity, when God closed the door on your face? Do you feel so burdened by what you did that it hinders your ability to receive love from people? (I raised my hand at that one.) Do you keep revisiting the past so much that you've gained fast passes? Do you miss that dysfunctional friendship? Does your obsession with comfort keeping you from your future? Why are you insisting in pursuing regret when a certain relationship didn't come to pass when it was God you protected you from that person in the first place? Hasn't the thought occurred that maybe, just maybe that person didn't have good intentions to start with? Why do keep punishing yourself with silly mistakes when that version of you is gone? You know better now. You're different now.
Why you can't be friends with regret.
When I look back and see how I reacted to certain scenarios I look at that girl with compassion. She didn't know any better. And truth be told, we all mess up. I wish I could tell the people I hurt that. I wish I could apologize to the individuals due to the carelessness of my actions and words. Will they accept my apology? I don't know, but I'd rather live on good terms with my conscious and forgive myself. I wish I could go back but I can't. (Notice I'm discussing about mistakes we've done and not any abuse from other people. If someone abused you, that was not your fault.) What are your eyes seeing? Have you been seeing what happened in the past with a self-condemning mentality? Are you so bitter that can't even let go of it? Whatever your it may be… If I were a mother, which I'm not, but if I were I would be saddened to hear my child verbalize repeatedly how worthless they are because they broke a vase. Now, this seems like a silly example but if we think about it, how sad would that be? It's like "baby move on, a vase from Pier 1 Imports can't possibly possess more value than you." I believe that's what God is telling you today. The harm you did to others, what you failed to do, or whatever it is that you did is utilized as a solid accusation towards your identity. And who accuses? The enemy does. God convicts but the devil condemns. These are two different things. Conviction is correction out love, like parents when they correct their children. Condemnation says: You are a failure because you had a failure. Yes, you might have to face some consequences (depending on the situation), because forgiveness does not eradicate the absence of repercussions, but it's not the end of the world for you friend. Are you going to keep loving a past that God eliminated because it wasn't good for you or will you open your heart and receive forgiveness through faith? That last part is difficult I know. Stop persecuting the obsolete version of yourself as if it were John Marston. The outdated version of you is gone. Dwelling on it won't change things. The outdated version of you is only a fugitive of justice because you give it that role in the movie of your memories. You're condemning the outdated version of yourself who:
Throughout this study we will focus on David, Peter, Lot's wife, and other characters in the bible that dealt with regret. We will focus on why God doesn't want us to live in the past. And why looking back is not an option from now on. I hope this helped you today.
Thank you for your word even if it contains harsh realities. I pray that every person that reads this can change their perspective towards their past. I pray that they will be able to forgive themselves and other people for any pain caused. Jesus, help them not to look back and open their eyes. Help them be brave and love again even if they were heartbroken, help them enjoy life once again even after everything that happened. I pray that you would show them how endless your mercy is, and to remove all fear.
We pray in your name. Amen.
Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We will lift the cup
and the bread we will break,
remembering Your love.
We were fallen from grace,
but You took on our shame
and nailed it to a cross.
as endless as the sea.
I'll sing Your hallelujah
for all eternity.
Mercy- Matt Redman
If you need mercy click here.