The world and all its sardonic players seem to make demands continually on believers…demanding our attention, our money, our solutions, our response…to place our efforts in a direction that pulls us away from the wisdom and purposes of God.
There are those seen and unseen that mock our words and intentions hoping somehow to put us in a state of immobility, unable to get much accomplished because we’re not giving the same amount of attention to those things they deem to be super-important. Of course, that would be the devil’s purpose – we do nothing and get nothing accomplished, or at least make us feel guilty for not accomplishing enough.
As a person gets older, thoughts about past accomplishments, mistakes, disappointments, victories, and cherished memories seem to come more frequently. With all of that reflection usually comes a revised assessment of what they meant to us back then and what they mean to us now. At the time those past events took place, we had a limited view and understanding of them. And at times we don’t realize God’s purpose in all of those events. So, our attitude toward those memories seems to change over time, either for good or bad. Right now you may either feel a sense of satisfaction in God having a purpose for all of those events, or you may feel that you’ve let Him or down, or worse - He’s let you down. Regrets can overtake us if we spend too much time on those recollections.
Do you ever wish that things were different than what they are now? Or do you ever wish that things had been different in your past? Of course we all have those wishes from time to time, but the amount of thought dedicated to those wishes may indicate a deep-seated desire that things were radically different. And you couldn’t do anything about it. No matter how much you tried to control the situation or how you prayed for it to change, it still happened differently from the way you wanted it to happen.
The first thing we should do is to be honest about our lack of accomplishments. Why is it so important to have them? Maybe it’s because of a sense of pride in ourselves so we’ll know we will account for something in the course of our lives. Maybe it’s because we’re trying to prove to someone important to us that we aren’t a failure. Maybe it’s because we want God to be pleased with us. In any case it usually means that we hold the measuring stick by which we measure ourselves against some supposed expectation that transcends God’s plan for and His view of us. Even if we aren’t sure of what God’s plan is, in the fog of uncertainty we don’t have to feel the full weight of regret over a lack of accomplishment.
Lest anyone think this is a treatise against having any desire for accomplishment, let me be clear here. God’s Word is full of stories about how He empowered people to accomplish things…BUT IT WAS FOR THE KINGDOM and not for themselves. This is what we decided at the time we gave our lives to Christ – we forfeited our wills (that was the intention anyway) so that we would fulfill His will. So this is all about motives. What motivates you to accomplish something? Is it for you or for the Lord?
Paul faced a similar situation. “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me” (2 Cor.12:7-9, NIV). You may not have an issue of an exploding ego due to all those revelations you’re getting from God. But you may feel pressure to accomplish something because of an ego. The Lord explained to Paul that His power is perfected, or completed, when Paul is at his weakest. The same holds true for the rest of us in those times and seasons where we feel weak in our accomplishments.
On the other hand, for those of you who are waiting for the Lord to tell you what to accomplish, consider this. Not knowing what His perfect, ultimate plan is for you does not exempt you or any of us from making attempts at accomplishing something for the Kingdom. There are a myriad of little things we can be doing for the Kingdom while we wait for that BIG plan He may have for us. And it may just happen that you find out what that huge plan is on the way to accomplishing that “little” thing you’re doing for Him that you never heard Him tell you to do but doing it anyway.
We can take another lesson from Paul that applies to all of this. In Phil. 3 he told the Philippians that everything he had accomplished was now just literal trash compared to what he considered to be the highest prize – gaining Christ and to be found in Him. Paul said his goal was to forget all those things behind him, including both accomplishments and lack of accomplishments so that he could push himself forward in order to keep his heavenly call in view at all times. When we lose that view even for a moment, we can be tempted to keep our own ambitions and goals in front of us.
Just let go now of all those regrets of what didn’t happen and what you didn’t accomplish. Pour them onto the altar to be consumed by the fire of the Holy Spirit – and then forget them. Shut out those voices that try to tell you what you should be doing. Elevate your eyes to see His plan that He has for you NOW regarding His Kingdom and ask Him what He would have you do. If you don’t hear from Him today, find a “little” thing that would make some difference for the sake of the Kingdom. Do this and you’ll soon forget all your regrets.