Do you ever wonder….?
These words often cause me to brace for the words to follow, which frequently lead to questions of regret.
One brisk fall morning nearly one year after I gave my life to Christ Jesus, as I hiked with a friend, she asked what I was reading that week in the Bible. She liked to know what book and chapter I was reading. Then we would discuss what the verses meant to each of us.
I chatted on in an excited tone about my reading and what God spoke to me in the verses. When I paused, she noted how thrilled she was at my excitement in talking of God. She remembered in words the days not many months before when I did not believe.
What she remembered was true. I had come to faith after thirty years an atheist. When she talked about God, I used to politely brush her off. I would say something like, I’m so glad your faith helps you and encourages you, but I don’t need God to get me through things or as my moral compass. I have a heart to serve people, but it’s because I like people and like to help. I still cringe at the memory. Who was I kidding? How could I “politely” brush off someone else’s beliefs?! Truth is, I was condescending. Yet, she accepted my attitude with grace.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8
“Look at where you are now in your faith,” she had said. “You’re pursuing God with all you’ve got.” I remember the hot sting of tears that rose to my eyes, which I blinked back. It humbled me when a friend recognized my devotion to God. I could never repay God for His love and faithfulness throughout the disdain of my unbelief, but I wanted to spend my remaining days loving Him and being faithful to Him.
Then she asked the question. Do you ever wonder how much further you would be in your faith, how much different your life might be, if you had believed your whole life? Her tone conveyed earnest curiosity.
I pondered her question a few moments. Then I told her, “Honestly, the thought never crossed my mind.”
I couldn’t change how I was then. I couldn’t take back the unbelief and disrespect. And I certainly could not make up for it. Still, I deeply regretted it. I felt terrible to have treated God that way, and horrible that I spoke arrogantly to people about my unbelief.
But, would I be more devoted, or could my longing to know Him be greater, or could I serve God better if I had turned to Him sooner? Thinking about that would be wasted time – time taken from my life with Jesus now. I don’t know how or why, but my experience of God, with God, gets better every day. Jesus makes me feel loved and included beyond all reason – even though I tried to throw Him away – showing me He has no regrets in dying to save me. When I think about that, I still get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Yes, I have regrets – but my regrets led to a complete change in my beliefs and behavior. And my new life in Jesus is something I will never regret.