I’m not feeling terribly original in my thinking this morning, and this devotional by Paul David Tripp says it much more clearly than I could anyway.
“Quit being paralyzed by your past. Grace offers you
life in the present and a guarantee of a future.”
It is a simple fact of nature that once the leaves are off the tree, you cannot put them back again. Once you have uttered words, you cannot rip them out of another’s hearing. Once you have acted on a choice, you cannot relive that moment again. Once you have behaved in a certain way at a certain time, you cannot ask for a redo. You and I just don’t have the option of reliving our past to try to do better any more than we have the power to glue the leaves back on the tree and make them live once again. What’s done is done and cannot be redone.
But we all wish we could live certain moments and certain decisions over again. If you’re at all humble and able to look back on your past with a degree of accuracy, you experience regret. None of us has always desired the right thing. None of us has always made the best decision. None of us has always been humble, kind, and loving. We haven’t always jumped to serve and forgive. None of us has always spoken the truth. None of us has been free of anger, envy, or vengeance. None of us has walked through life with unblemished nobility. None of us. So all of us have reason for remorse and regret. All of us are left with the sadness of what has been done and can’t be undone.
That’s why all of us should daily celebrate the grace that frees us from the regret of the past. This freedom is not the freedom of retraction or denial. It’s not the freedom of rewriting our history. No, it’s the freedom of forgiving and transforming grace. This grace welcomes me to live with hope in the present because it frees me to leave my past behind. All of what I look back on and would like to redo has been fully covered by the blood of Jesus. I no longer need to carry the burden of the past on my shoulders, so I am free to fully give myself to what God has called me to in the here and now. “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13–14).
Are you paralyzed by your past? Are you living under the dark shroud of the “if-onlys”? Does your past influence your present more than God’s past, present, and future grace? Have you received and are you living out of the forgiveness that is yours because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus? Paul David Tripp (my emphasis added)