Have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t unscramble eggs”? It’s a very true statement when cooking breakfast and even more true when referring to mistakes you’ve made. We’ve all messed up and most likely have regrets. What do you wish you could go back and re-do? Your past mistakes can either liberate or incarcerate you. How do you deal with mistakes of the past? I’ve got really good news! A verse I quote often is Romans 8:28. It says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” That means in Christ, even the worst of mistakes or situations can be redeemed. No matter what your failure, weakness, sin, or circumstance, God can work right in the middle of it. He can bring you peace in the middle of chaos and free you from guilt and shame. There is no guilt or shame for those in Christ because the law of the Spirit of life in Jesus has set us (Romans 8:1-2). Some wish they could go back and spend neglected time with loved ones. Maybe you worked too much or said things you shouldn’t have. Perhaps, you caused heartache or have been hurt in a relationship. The desire to re-do a bad decision doesn’t always make the bad memories of it go away. Whatever your regret may be, Jesus can help. Maybe you can’t “unscramble eggs” but Jesus can make all things new (Revelation 21:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Peter was one of those guys in Scripture who, I’m sure, wished he could have some “do-over’s”. Scripture says he broke down and wept after he realized he had betrayed Jesus (Mark 14:72). Oh how Peter longed to take that back! After this, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter replied “yes” three times (interesting since Peter denied Jesus three times). Jesus forgave Peter and restored him to ministry, asking him to shepherd His people (John 21:7-17). Peter went on to preach less than two months later and three thousand people were saved (Acts 2:41)! It seems God used Peter despite his shameful past and mistakes.
So how do you recover from past mistakes, be useful to God’s Kingdom and fulfill His purposes for you? If you have made the mistakes or sinned, you first have to receive His forgiveness by repenting. 2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” You must be sincerely sorry for your sins and ask God to forgive you. Forgiveness from God is the only way to truly move past your haunting past. God “forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3). Even if you didn’t cause the problem of the past God can still heal you from it. He pardons sin and forgives transgressions with delight and mercy (Micah 7:18).
Some people say, “I have no problem accepting God’s forgiveness. I just can’t forgive myself.” You know, they are right. They can’t forgive themselves and neither can you and I. Only God can truly forgive you. But you have to receive that forgiveness and walk in it. Stop saying “what if”. We all have “what if’s”. Scripture tells us to take our thoughts captive and make them obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). The Message paraphrase of that verse tells us to “use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.” Paul even said to focus on, “forgetting the past and look forward to the future” (Philippians 3:13). Regret and condemnation must be replaced with forgiveness and truth. Maybe you have some regrets, but doesn’t everyone? Paul said we not only share in sufferings but also in the comfort that God brings (2 Corinthians 1:7). His compassion never fails and mercies are new every morning because He is faithful. (Lamentation 3:22-23).