“Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.”
– Proverbs 10:17, New International Version
There is a thought-provoking scene in Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s tale, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Young Alice comes to a fork in the road and asks the Cheshire Cat which direction she should take.
“‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat. “‘I don’t much care where –’ said Alice. “‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you walk,’ said the Cat.”
Have you ever made a decision that seemed right at the time but then regretted it because it led in you in the wrong direction?
There is statement that is repeated in the book of Judges, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit,” (Judges 17:6; 19:1; 21:25).
Within this context, Jephthah made a vow to God. He said, “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering,” (Judges 11:30-31).
Obviously, Jephthah regretted making that vow.
We’re all human. Like Jephthah, we’ve said or done things we ended up deeply regretting. Even if we didn’t realize it at the time, we’ve made decisions that led us to a place we never thought we’d be.
How do we handle those moments?
When the choices we make lead us down the wrong path, we’re faced with a much greater decision – to embrace the truth or to ignore it.
Remember, every decision we make has a cost–keep a calculator handy.
When we choose to embrace the truth, we encounter a temporary pain, repent of our sin, and can move forward with our lives free from regret. However, when we choose to ignore the truth, we set ourselves up for a much deeper pain rooted in a guilty conscience and unfulfilled potential.
Here’s the best news. Jesus didn’t die to make good people great or bad people better. Christ came to be the sacrifice for our debt. When we choose to carry our debt, we settle for a life of regret. However, when we humble ourselves before God and receive his grace, we are given the gift of true life.
God can rewrite our story, not based on what we’ve done, but on what Jesus already did for us.
As we go forward, remember that we can live by the principle of repentance, not by the pain of regret.