As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me--the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. -- 2Timothy 4: 6-8 (NLT)
Death remains the great equalizer. Besides taxes, it is the only thing this world is sure of. We all will run our course here on this planet and one day will stand before God. I came across a secular article yesterday about the five greatest regrets people who knew their time was up shared. The top five things they looked back on wishing they had another chance to re-do. I found them interesting in relation to what the Bible says because there should be no regrets in Christ Jesus. There should be no regrets in living the eternal life now. The devil works overtime to try and convince Christians to live in their past and he succeeds way too often. A Christian stuck in their past is not allowing the redemptive work of the cross free them in this life. When we are stuck in the past we are in fact shackled to it and are unable to move into the great future God has laid out for us already since the foundations of the earth were set:
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. -- Ephesians 2: 10 (NIV)
Yet so many never find their calling. So many spend their lives living with regrets over things they can no longer change. The first regret given in the article was, " I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me." There is a lot of worldly truth in this regret. People are constantly allowing who they are to be shaped by other people. Wives give up their identity for their husbands. Husbands sacrifice who they are on the altar of a career. Mothers turn in their hopes and dreams and live vicariously through their children. Youth try to live up to the image of some superstar or idol they admire. As followers of Jesus Christ however, we are freed from this:
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord--who is the Spirit--makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. -- 2Corinthians 3: 16-18 (NLT)
The only expectations we are to try and live up to is that of our Lord and Savior. Will we achieve it? Never in this flesh but we know we serve a God who will forgive us all our unrighteousness. There is no reason to live true to ourselves because we nailed ourselves to the cross and now it is Christ that lives inside of us! This regret is summarily canceled before it could ever come to fruition in real time! God sets our expectations. God makes our paths know before us. The Word is a lamp unto our feet because our faith need only to see the next step God has for us. Hallelujah!
The second regret the article references is, " I wish I hadn't worked so hard." Oh beloved, how many of us can relate to this? We live in a dog eat dog world where compulsive, sacrificial work is rewarded and admired despite the negative consequences that accompany it. Society reinforces the "he who dies with the most toys, wins" mindset but we as Christians ought to know better. He who dies with the most toys still stands before God naked and toyless. As Don Henley once quipped; you don't see no hearses with luggage racks." Jesus taught specifically against this: