When I think back on past mistakes in my life, there are some I wish I could change and live through again, making the correct decision. There are others that I see the need for me having to live through them in order for a lesson to be learned. And yes, I wish I could change my first decision, and do better, but I’m where I’m at now because I made it through that difficult experience. We all have those times in our lives.
The two examples above run very close together, but they do have some differences that set them apart. I think the biggest one that I’m going to focus on for the sake of this post, is the first example. Because it deals with guilt. The original sin, or mistake may be bad. But it’s the guilt we immerse ourselves in through the years that is more devastating to our souls. It can destroy us.
If we look at that first example, we can use a scenario. I will use a simple one, but you can place almost any sin/mistake into that. As a child, we decide to steal a candy bar while our parents are checking out at the store. We steal it because we were told that we couldn’t have it. We want it anyway. We may get away with it, and the guilt is there. Or we may not, and the guilt is there each time we think about how we let our parents down, and the impression we made on the store. But we make the decision to never steal again. We may wish for the rest of our lives that we could go back, and not steal the candy bar and have that mark on our record. But it probably doesn’t change our lives too drastically.
The scenario using the second example. We steal the candy bar, we may get away with it, or we may not. But instead of stopping the sin, we continue on. It may become more items stolen in a store, to a car that is stolen, or breaking into houses. The behavior is continued until you serve jail time. In this scene, the sin and wrong decisions may continue until the end of our life. We may become more bitter and angry. We may want to seek more ways to demonstrate those feelings. We harden our hearts.
But…we could decide during that first time in jail to get our act together. We could decide to change our life, and start making good decisions. We could use that time to grow spiritually, and reach others. If there is an opportunity to get out of jail and have a life again, we could be a better person because of the experiences we had during that difficult time.
Yes, I’m making this very simplistic, and with those scenarios we could go off in a million different ways. Because we are people, and each one of us is unique in how we deal with a situation.
The bottom line…we all make bad decisions, we all sin. The difference is how we each handle it, and how we travel down the paths we have to take for the rest of our lives. But if we live with guilt, and we continually live through those past mistakes and sins, over and over, we can’t heal. Guilt is something we do to ourselves.
While two of our children were at Cornerstone Bible Institute in Hot Springs, South Dakota, we had the opportunity to sit in on some of their classes over the years. One of the teachers had a way of really getting to the heart of something and nailing it. He made it very clear and easy to understand. I wrote down as many of his little quotes or quips, (and I don’t know if that is the correct terminology for his words,) as I could. This is one of them:
Those six little words really spoke to me. They reminded me to confess the sin in my life using :
1 John 1:9 King James Version (KJV)
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Then stop doing that sin, whatever it may be.
Then forget it. Don’t bring it back, reliving, going over, feeling guilty.
That verse says that God is faithful, He has forgiven us, and cleansed us from that sin. Us taking it back is not trusting Him.
I’m not saying that is easy. It takes faith, lots of prayer, and a mindset to go on, not looking back at what could have been. But I am thankful for the times in my life that although I wish I hadn’t made the decision, I came out on the other side a better, stronger person.