Recently I was asked to share at my church’s youth camp. The topic was an easy one: how has Jesus impacted your life?
I say it was easy because there are so many things I could have talked about. But there was one word that kept coming back to my mind: freedom.
Now, of course, freedom from sin is generally the first thought that comes to mind when we think about Jesus. But, for me, Jesus’ freedom extends to more than just sin. He gives me freedom from my mind and my emotions as well.
You see, when I was younger, I used to really battle with worry and anxiety. Often, I would find myself in a place where I was just overwhelmed by it. I was mostly worried about the future – frightened by it to be more honest. Specifically, I was scared of what the potential effects of my failures – particularly at school – would have on my future.
I knew God had a plan for me, and that it was a good plan. But I often thought I would mess it up if I were to make the wrong decision or not succeed in something I was “supposed to”. Unfortunately, this thinking brought another emotion into the mix: regret.
Not only was I scared that I might do something in the future to mess it up, but I would also lament over past decisions that I was sure negatively impacted my trajectory. I was hindered by the past and intimated by the future. But there is an iconic verse that has changed my life. It is Romans chapter 8, verse 28:
“In all things God works for the good of those who love Him”.
To me, the key to this verse are the words: “for those who love Him”. Because, what this told me is, provided my heart is inclined to Him and my intention is to do His will in my life, the word regret and mistake don’t exist.
The fear of making mistakes came from the belief that their effects would be irreversibly negative in my life. How comforting to know then that any mistake could be made into something good by Him.
Greater than all my regrets
With God, mistakes aren’t dead ends, but an opportunity for Him to re-route. You’re not sure about something? You don’t know where to step next? Pray to God. Seek His will. Then do what you think He is saying is right.
Whatever you choose, you aren’t disqualifying God’s plan for you. He will use whatever decision you make for good.
When it comes to regret, God is greater than all our regrets. It’s the title of one of my favourite songs and some of it goes:
“So if I fall and if I fail,
I will trust Your mercy is
Greater than all of this
And if I bend and if I break
I’ll trust the hands that hold me are
Greater than all my regrets
You are greater than all my regrets”
As the lead singer puts it: “Regret is the belief that the mess I made can’t be made into something beautiful by Him”.
It all comes back to having faith in that verse. Because that verse contains a truth, and I’m sorry if it hurts your ego, but you simply aren’t capable of making a mess He can’t fix. What an amazing comfort.
So, how has Jesus changed my life? Well He came to bring freedom and He certainly did. He gives me freedom from my past – my regrets, my mistakes – and He gives me freedom from the future.
I don’t have to worry because He works all things for good. I have freedom from what has gone before, and I have freedom from what is to come and this, this allows me to find joy in what is happening now.
“Trust is believing your future is wrapped in the love of God, and if that’s the case, then we can trust-fall into wherever God leads” – Mike Donehey, Finding God’s Will for my Life.
That joy is available to each and everyone one of us. Whether it’s the future or the past that is taking hostage of your mind, give it to God. Trust that He will work it for good. He has never let me down and I promise He won’t let you down either.
Matthew Thornton is studying at the University of Auckland, Matthew finds that writing is one of the prime ways he connects with and grows closer to God. He loves seeing the way in which God has wired everyone uniquely and finds immense fulfilment in seeing others discover who God is to them. He would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org