God has given us opportunities every day of our lives, but today is the day we’re given to start looking ahead.
Ever wish you could enter a time machine and go back and change something in your past—fix a mistake, alter a decision? Everybody has regrets! Even the “heroes” of the Bible had cause to look back wistfully. Yet the Apostle Paul warns us not to keep our eyes in the rearview mirror: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Imagine how Peter must have felt when, in the pre-dawn of the night of Jesus’ arrest…the rooster crowed. In that moment, Peter knew he had utterly failed. “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will,” Peter had insisted. But Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times” (Matthew 26:33-34). It’s no surprise Who was right.
But Peter was not the first person in the Bible who struggled with regret. Adam and Eve surely looked back wistfully on the paradise they had lost. An act of willful disobedience, and Eden was gone. Adam and Eve (and the rest of mankind) would now grow their food “by the sweat of your brow” (Genesis 3:19).
There was also Samuel, a parent whose sons “did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice” (1 Samuel 8:3). Holy as he was, surely Samuel, too, wished he’d done a few things differently.
Free will gives us the opportunity to make our own decisions—and the not-so-pleasant possibility that we’ll make choices we later wish we hadn’t. But if looking at our past choices draws our hearts closer to God, the time spent pondering how we’d do things differently is valuable. Looking back can help us repent, and “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
God has given us opportunities every day of our lives, but today is the day we’re given to start looking ahead, to shake off old chains, to forgive and be forgiven. “The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).