Past Years — Coming Years

As you look back over the past couple of years, do you have any regrets? What do you plan to do about that?

As you look back over the past couple of years, are you excited about what God has done through your life? Or are there lots of regrets?

Hopefully, some “good stuff” comes to your mind! Of course, we know that anything of eternal value that has happened through our lives has been accomplished by God Himself. The glory belongs to Him. But it is certainly a good thing, from time to time, to take time for a bit of  personal inventory. Hopefully, we have a few encouraging memories!

On the other hand, there may not be as much “good stuff” that comes to mind as we would like. Usually, we Christians have really wonderful intentions. We plan to do things that that will “count.” But most of these things require (sigh!) discipline. And we all have this maddening tendency to keep pushing those kinds of things on into the future. It is easy to fall into that trap. And we are all too familiar with the feelings of regrets, frustration and embarrassment that result.

But the past is past. And God tells us to let go of it (Philippians 3:13).

And the great news is that God is ready to give us grace to do better from now on!

Perhaps God will choose to give us the grace to live at least a couple of more years. We don’t know that. But perhaps He will. If He does, when they are passed (and they will pass so quickly!), am I going to have the same kinds of feelings that I have now as I look over the last couple of years?

I can’t do anything about the last couple–but I can do something about the next couple!

Let me emphasize it again. There is a nearly overwhelming tendency in most humans to keep postponing really important things. If putting them off won’t “get me in trouble,” then I tend to put them off. The sad truth is that many people live their entire lives “putting off” the really important stuff. Then they get near the end and grieve over their lack of discipline and wisdom.

God has not left us without warning!

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14 NAS95)

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,  making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:15-16 NAS95)

“Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” (Col 4:5 ESV)

“So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:12 NAS95)

This means we must learn to avoid making the soft choices of life. We must do things that “count” when our flesh would rather just “take it easy.” Of course, it requires the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit of God. (Self-discipline is listed in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23.)

Maybe we could pray, “Father, I do not want to waste the precious time You have given me! How do You want me to use it? Do You have a project or ministry or service You want me to be involved in? Are there things I can do for my family and loved ones? For Your church? Teach me to number my days and to make decisions that I will not regret!”

If you were to drop dead today (and you might! I’m so cheery!), what would you have left behind for your grandchildren to remind them of what was most important in your life? Time is running out!

So many parents and grandparents work hard to leave their children and grandchildren material things. We may work hard to teach them skills that are valuable for this life only!  But the material things will eventually be worthless to them! And this life finally comes to an end–for us and for them! Eventually, they have to die too!

One of my fellow teachers brought a copy of a letter for me to read. It had been written by a dear relative who had died a few years ago. In the letter she wrote about her close walk with God and how He had strengthened her during the tough times she had been through. What an exciting and powerful thing to leave behind for the next generation! It brought tears to my eyes and I did not even know the lady!

We can follow that example! We can write letters, diaries, journals, testimonies, (and, yes, blogs!) and pass them on to as many relatives as we can. They may not value them now. They may even lose them. But perhaps, later on, at a time of need, another family member may encourage them to read it and be strengthened!

Richard Baxter, the English Puritan who lived in the 17th century, said, “I preach as a dying man to dying men.” He was conscious of the brevity of life.

Very soon we will burst into eternity! Let’s minimize the regrets!