Last weekend, I went to a play at my old high school. Nineteen years have passed since I last walked those hallways.
Emotions stirred up in me as I opened the once familiar door. Ahead was a long hall full of past memorabilia with cases of trophies and plaques covering the walls. Countless basketball, football, track, tennis team pictures from the 1960's to present lined the hallway. As I walked a few steps, I saw the band room door that had been where I had spend a majority of my high school years.
High school should be some of the funnest times and happiest memories of childhood. For me, looking back can be painful. God has healed me and redeemed my past, but memories did haunt me as I stood there in that hallway looking in the gym. Writing this is even difficult because I don't like looking back. There were some fun times, but the bad decisions I made and the people I hurt overshadow the fun times.
I know, I know...don't regret, you wouldn't be the same person you are today if you hadn't made those mistakes. Maybe not, but I still regret. I still wish I would have made better choices. I know I can't go back and change the past, but I wish I could.
Although, going back in time isn't an option, God is so good and He makes all things new. We just have to choose to follow Him. His path leads to restoration.
And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. Isaiah 61:4
It doesn't matter if your family has a history of pain, regret, or shame. When you received the Lord, you entered into a new family.....a family of hope, healing, life, joy, peace. God wants you to have a beautiful life, and you have the opportunity to change the history of your family for the generations to follow! How incredible is that!
Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs. For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery for sacrifice; I will direct their work in truth, and will make with them an everlasting covenant.
Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people.
All who see them shall acknowledge them, That they are the posterity whom the Lord has blessed. Isaiah 61: 7-8
The Lord wants to restore our broken past and rebuild our broken dreams. When the Lord restores, others notice a difference. We get a beautiful life and God gets the glory.
Back to the hallways for a moment. Everyday we are faced with hallways. We get to choose which hallway we will go down:
Hallway of Rebellion: Rebellion leads to regret. When we do not follow the Lord, when we choose rebellion and to follow our flesh, we will not like the end result. Our flesh may like it temporarily and we may feel justified in the moment, but the pain of regret will come.
The whole book of Isaiah is an example of this....the Isrealites rebelled against the Lord and the Lord pleaded with them to return to Him. Their rebellion led to their captivity. Sustained rebellion always leads to captivity.
This past week, I struggled with rebellion. It was in the area of following authority. My flesh wanted to do one thing, but the Lord kept whispering rebellion leads to regret. I wish I could say I did the right thing all the time. I did listen to the Lord eventually, I am so thankful for His mercy.
Hallway of Righteousness: Righteousness has a funny ring to it. It seems unattainable, but it is ours. Jesus Christ has made us righteous. We we rebel we are actually rebelling against who we are in Christ.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. ( I love that!)
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
Isaiah 61: 10-11
So, if rebellion leads to regret, what does righteousness lead to?
Righteousness leads to reaching. When we display the character of Christ, when we act like Christ, we draw others to Him. When we rebel, we damage our witness.
Everyday we have the opportunity to decide which hallway we will go down. It doesn't matter where we have walked in the past. Our past does not determine our destiny. We are not defined by our past mistakes. We may regret some of them, but that regret can be turned into restoration. God takes our old ruins and rebuilds them into something beautiful for Him.
Which hallway will you choose today? Do you also have a something in your past that you regret? Will you give it to the Lord? He gives us comfort for mourning, beauty for ashes, joy for despair, praise instead of a spirit of heaviness.....will you also let Him give you restoration for regret?