04
May
10

The Regret Collector

He has removed our sins as far from us
      as the east is from the west. – Psalm 103:12 (NLT)

The pastor had settled into the large pulpit chair on the stage as the choir finished their special music.  Did the chair seem larger than usual this morning, or was it that he seemed smaller?  The final strains of the vocals faded and the last notes on the piano ended.  It was time to get up and go to the pulpit, but his legs weren’t cooperating.  Silence fell across the sanctuary as the pastor continued to sit, head down, eyes tightly closed.  A cough….another….somebody cleared their throat….a baby whined….a seat creaked, as finally, the minister rose from his chair and slowly approached the pulpit.  As he did, he reached into his inside coat pocket and withdrew an innocuous looking piece of paper.  Placing the paper on the stand, and putting  both hands on either side as though to hold himself up, the silence continued for more prolonged moments.  A single tear fell onto the paper in front of him.  Another cough from the people and someone quietly spoke, “Bless him Lord.”

The voice began in almost a whisper, but it rang out through the silent church like a thunder clap as the pastor finally gathered his courage and said, “This will be the most difficult letter I have ever had to read…”  He could not look out at the faces before him, but he knew instinctively that their expressions were worried and confused.  The only instant that he looked out, he saw his wife sitting on the front row, staring blankly straight ahead…expressionless.  “I regret to inform you, my dear friends, that I must resign from pastoring (you fill in the name) Church.  Because of certain and specific sin issues in my life, I am no longer qualified to lead this or any other church…..”

“I regret….”  As those two words were uttered, in fact everytime those words are uttered, somewhere in the very heart of Hell a wry smile spreads across the face of our Adversary, the Devil.  He is the collector of regrets.  He files them away so that he can pull them out at just the right moment to remind us of them again and again.  He smiled and chuckled on that Sunday morning, as the hot tears of disappointment flowed down the faces of that congregation.  He was filled with glee as that pastor closed his letter and walked out of the church.  The Enemy broke into a full laugh as the now former pastor opened the doorway to guilt and shame and stepped through it into darkness.

The story you have just read is not fiction.  The events described actually took place ten years ago, and the pastor was me.  I have told the story before, but even more tragically, the story has played over and over again in my mind for many years following.  The sheer weight of that replaying story nearly crushed me under the weight of guilt and shame and regret for more than six years and literally almost killed me. 

That is when the Lord Jesus, merciful and filled with grace, purposefully and intentionally altered the story line and gave me a new one.  Oh, He did not change the original story or many of its consequences.  Rather He showed me a way to live… really live, inspite of it.  He told me that neither my story or His ended on that horrible Sunday.  He reminded me of another story that could have ended in regret and shame on a Cross, but did not.  Because that story did not end, but continues to this day….continued even on that Sunday ten years ago… my story has not ended in defeat and no one else’s needs to either. 

Regret.  It is the tool that our Enemy, Satan uses best to capture us, to control us, to hinder us, to stop us from fulfilling our destiny in Christ, and from acheiving the abundant life that our Lord promised us, and worse from making His saving grace available to a world living in pain and separation from God. 

NO MORE!  The story I thought ended in regret continues on toward its finale of victory in Christ.  Nothing….no shame, no guilt and certainly no regret will keep me from telling it right up to the final page.  If you believe that the things in your life that you regret have disqualified you from receiving everything that Jesus has for you….have I got a story for you!

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