by Pastor Tim Burt
As a 61-year-old Pastor, I have listened to a great many people share personal thoughts with me. As people get older, they have the ability to look back over their life. From that place, there is one thought in particular, expressed through two different people that strikes my heart every time I hear it. It is something I have personally tried to learn from. I want to share what they said—very similar but expressed differently, with you. These thoughts are regrets—regrets that I have purposed not to have in my life. One person said to me, I wish I would have used more of my life to serve the Lord instead of chasing meaningless dreams I thought were important. Another person said, I wish I would have realized how short life is, valued it, and used it more for the Lord.
Why do Christians come to this regret? They do because they come to grips with the truth that God has made nothing in this world to satisfy our longings, outside of Him. The thing that brings deep, inward, personal satisfaction to your life, is when you know that God has a plan for your life and you have walked it out to the best of your ability. That happens when you realize God wants everyone to be saved from their sins through Jesus Christ, and to grow, spiritually mature, and become disciples of Him. There are a thousand ways to contribute to that plan. When you come to realize this truth and allow it to become a core value of your life, then and only then will you look back in life without regret.
Many years ago, while working for the airlines, I was in a jet aircraft near miss. It was so close that we barely avoided destruction and death. Though it happened almost 30 years ago, I remember it like it happened yesterday. Two jet aircrafts barely escaping a mid-air collision. As soon as the incident passed, I remember going through days of deep reflection about how my life almost ended. I couldn't stop thinking about how disappointed I would have been standing before the Lord giving an account for my life.
l had made many changes since becoming a Christian, and yet I knew there were so many things the Lord wanted me to do that I was ignoring. I repented to the Lord right then and there for acting indifferent regarding things He wanted me to do. It was at that time I experienced another life-change. The first was receiving Jesus as my personal Savior. This second one was to begin to live my life as wholeheartedly for Him as I could. I made a vow to the Lord to quit procrastinating and step out in faith to do those things He had been speaking to my heart about! That was a mountain-moving time for me. My life's new core value became that which was spoken by the Apostle Paul in Acts 20:24 (NIV.) “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.”
I immediately gave myself over to things that I knew He wanted me to do. My life has never been the same since. I am in a place where I feel as though I have served the Lord by serving people with every fiber of my being—writing Fresh Manna being one part of that experience. I have no regrets and looking back, there is very little that I would ever change in my life. Since that day, my life has been all about people—dedicated to the task of testifying of the gospel and of God's great mercy and grace. And that was not because I was a Pastor. I hadn't become one yet. I did it in my job, in both of my two businesses, and wherever and however God would lead me. At church I started Bible studies, taught children, raised up others to lead and started hundreds of small groups where others could be a blessing in helping those God gave them. In the beginning of all this, I knew nothing and had to fight fear and inadequacy in everything I did. But over time it got easier and the Lord strengthened my confidence as I bore fruit.
I want the Apostle Paul’s testimony to be mine. We all should. He said in 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV) “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” There is nothing more satisfying and keeps us from all regrets. Don't wait until you experience a crisis or you get old to figure that out. Learn from others early in life and find out just how rich your life in God can become!
1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NLT) "After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you!"
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt