Do you occasionally, like me, look back over your life with heavy regret? I suppose my biggest regret is that I didn't pray for and with my children more. I did not often model joy in the midst of brokenness for them. I did not communicate well to them the freedom - the incredible sense of weightlessness - that comes with acknowledging undeniable and plainly evident inadequacy.
We had a rough start this morning here at Kendallville. Miscommunication, wrong assumptions, harsh words, hurt feelings, tears. Everyone was right and everyone was wrong - and no one was handling the situation very well. When the storm blew out the front door, I sat at the kitchen counter with my Bible, reading and praying and weeping. Several thoughts ran through my mind...
First, I grieved my failure to teach my children - to model for them - the ability to quickly admit, "Man, I really made a mess of that. Even if I was in the right, I did not honor God or my brother/sister in the way I handled the situation." Insisting on being right, it's like being the last man standing in a field of carnage where the slain bodies around you are not those of your enemies, but your family. There is no glory in that.
Second, I recalled a recent visit with dear friends who live lives of transparent brokenness. They do not pretend to be "good" people, in control and living fully-sanctified lives. They readily admit their past struggles with addictions and godless living, and their present struggles with anxiousness, depression, and fear. Yet, they are two of the most gracious, joyful people I know. One of them will say, "Man, I made a mess of that!" - and the other will say gently, "Yes, you sure did, baby. Let's stop right now and pray together about it." By freely acknowledging the brokenness and sin that clings to them, they also freely embrace the grace, mercy, hope, and strength that are theirs in Christ. They don't have to be right. They're not afraid of being wrong. They know that being wrong takes them back to the Jesus that they love.
That's the Jesus that I need today. That's the Jesus my kids need today, too. It breaks my heart when I think that maybe, after all these years, they still don't understand just how big and sufficient and good He is. That they think they have to be right, or defend themselves, or have the last word - like they can't trust Jesus to break through the frustration and anger and deal with their hearts, empowering them to lay down their swords instead of swinging them blindly.
I want to end with an excerpt from C.S. Lewis's book, The Great Divorce. This passage encourages me greatly, because it reminds me that God is sovereign over my past, not just my present and my future. In Christ, God also redeems my past, including all the missed opportunities, regrets, and failures. He is making it ALL beautiful - I don't understand how, and I may not see the beauty yet, but I have the assurance of Glory, when all things will be made plain.
C.S. Lewis writes, in a scene where the Teacher explains Time:
"Son," he said, "ye cannot in your present state understand eternity: when Anodos looked through the door of the Timeless he brought no message back. But ye can get some likeness of it if ye say that both good and evil, when they are full grown, become retrospective. Not only this valley but all their earthly past will have been Heaven to those who are saved. Not only the twilight in that town, but all their life on Earth too, will then be seen by the damned to have been Hell. That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, 'No future bliss can make up for it,' not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say 'Let me have but this and I'll take the consequences': little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man's past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man's past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say 'We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,' and the Lost, 'We were always in Hell.' And both will speak truly."
4 weeks ago