As we reach the end of another year, 2011, I am reminded of one of the great secrets of life: to live life with as few regrets as possible. I love the testimony of Abraham that says, “Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people.” What a coveted testimony, to live your life, determined to come to the end as a “satisfied customer” with as few regrets as possible. The reason this is so important is that this life is not a trial run, YOU ONLY GET TO DO THIS ONCE!
As we close this year, let me just speak to those who are carrying a huge weight of regret. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb.12:1,2) Regret is a huge weight that so many people carry around their necks. There life is burden by and trapped by the “if Only’s.”
I would have dressed up, only it was too much trouble.
I would have gone out, only it cost too much.
I would have driven, only travel’s dangerous.
I would have eaten, only I weigh too much.
I would have danced, only I didn’t have a partner.
I would have returned, only it brought back bad memories.
I would have gone, only I didn’t have time.
I would have visited, only I wasn’t wanted.
I would have tried, only it was a waste of energy.
I would have helped, only they didn’t need me.
I would have cared, only I didn’t feel like it.
I would have cried, only I wasn’t sorry.
I would have volunteered, only I had better things to do.
I would have voted, only it wouldn’t have changed things.
I would have donated, only they’d made their quota.
I would have spoken up, only I was afraid to.
I would have acted, only others got there first.
I would have felt sorry, only I didn’t feel guilty.
I would have prepared, only it was too much work.
I would have studied, only I wouldn’t have passed.
I would have corrected it, only it was too late.
I would have told the truth, only it would have offended.
I would have graduated, only life intervened.
I would have gotten the job, only they didn’t like me.
I would have prayed, only God only knows.
I would have worshiped, only I hate to sing.
I would have fellowshipped, only I didn’t know them.
I would have served, only I didn’t have the calling.
I would have loved, only it hurt too much.
I would have lived, If only.
The Nobel Peace Prize awards excellence in the field of science, literature, peace, and economics. It is named after Alfred Nobel. Nobel was a Swedish chemist who made his fortune by inventing explosives and licensing their manufacture to foreign governments for the production of weapons. One day Nobel’s brother died and the newspaper accidentally ran Alfred’s obituary instead of his brother’s. Alfred had the rare opportunity to read how others would remember him. The obituary identified him as the inventor of dynamite, enabling nations to more effectively destroy one another. Concerned that he would be remembered only as a merchant of death, he decided he would re-channel the remainder of his life to more productive efforts. With a sizeable chunk of his wealth, he established the Nobel prizes to recognize and encourage accomplishments that would benefit humanity. This is what he is most remembered for today. We may not achieve the stature of his fame and fortune, but...all of us have the possibility of redirecting our time, our money, our emotions, our energies in such a way that we can live and die without regrets!
According to Hebrews, the goal here is the finish line! One of the biggest lessons life has to teach us is the necessity of arranging life around what really matters in light of our mortality and God’s eternity! You know what I hear in Paul’s prayer and plea? Laying aside every weight and sin, running with enduring keeping your eyes fixed always on Jesus is to live to MINIMIZEREGRETS. Let eternity motivate you to search out the highest and the best, and you will not only live the best life you can now, but, you will also one day see a victorious finish line! God will remain on His throne, sovereign over all creation, and all will be well with our soul, no matter what happens. Perhaps things will not be well with our world, but they will be well with our soul.
There is an odd little carol which is sometimes sung on this first Sunday after Christmas. It begins:
There’s snow on the mountain and ice on the pond,
The Wise Men are home now in the back of beyond.
The Shepherd’s have left us; the heavens are dumb;
There’s no one to tell us why Jesus has come.
Then, it ends:
But God’s in His heaven, and Jesus has come
To show every sinner he’s welcome back home,
To be this world’s Savior from hunger and fear,
And give us new courage to face the New Year.
WE HAVE COURAGE TO FACE THIS NEW YEAR BECAUSE OF JESUS.
HE IS IMMANUEL–GOD WITH US AND FOR US.