During a visit with my dear friend Amber, she asked me a thought-provoking question.
It’s one that I’ve thought about frequently for 2 years.
If there was one thing in my life I could change, what would it be?
Does that mean right now? As in, I want a different car? A different career? A different shirt?
Or does that mean something significant that would have changed the course of my life or my impact on others?
Would it be accepting the assignment to England earlier in my Air Force career?
Getting baptized earlier? Starting a ministry in the midst of doubt?
Would it be starting my Doctorate immediately after my Masters or wait?
Adoption sooner? More kiddos in my house?
A different retirement location?
One thing I know without a shadow of a doubt that I would change is from the night of my Senior prom. You see, my mom had to work that night and I’d told her that my date and I would swing by her workplace so she could see us all dressed up. But we were running behind…and rather than be late to dinner, we skipped going by to see my mom. I distinctly remember her face the next day saying that she was sad that she didn’t get to see me.
I can only imagine her anticipation at work slowing turning into the realization that I wasn’t coming. To this day, I regret disappointing my mom so completely.
Other than disappointing my mom on prom night, my answer is pretty simple…I don’t know that there is much I would change. Even the awful decisions and consequences of my life had purpose. I would not be who I am today without many of these “learning opportunities.”
I wonder if Paul (formerly Saul) would change anything from his life. At the time of his conversion to Christianity, he was a well-known, educated Jew, who actively participated in the persecution of Christ-followers. He was aggressive in finding Christians. He was meticulous in punishing them. He wanted to eradicate Christians. And he was mean in that desire.
An example of his actions is seen in Acts Chapter 7 when he gladly holds the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen, the 1stmartyr for Christianity. In Acts 8:1 (CSB) it states, “Saul agreed with putting him to death.” Other versions state that Saul was “delighted” by Stephen’s death.
To me, that screams of maliciousness. It seems extremely mean-spirited.
Yet just a one chapter later, we find ourselves reading about Saul on the road to Damascus, where he encounters the voice of Jesus and is struck blind. Talk about the Lord getting his attention in a major way!!! The good news is that at that point Saul believes in Christ and the conversion through salvation. He is forgiven of his sins, his sight is restored, he is renamed Paul, and he becomes a staunch supporter of the Gospel. The epitome of forgiveness, grace and salvation.
I imagine there was then moments of great doubt, remorse, and regret about the life he had previously led. Hypothetically if I were Paul, I would have a few things that I’d like to change about my past. In 1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV) we see that Paul said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”
Paul believed he was the Chief Sinner. The worst of the worst.
While we understand that God doesn’t rack-and-stack sinful behavior, counting one more egregious than another, what we do see from 1 Timothy is that Paul did have remorse and acknowledgment of his awful behavior in the past.
Would he have wanted to change the past? Probably, yes. But I would argue that it was his aggressive persecution of Christians in his past that made him so much more relatable and a solid witness for Christ later in life. Perhaps in the midst of regretting the past, Paul was wise enough to know that his past, while terrible, would serve a future purpose.
You see, every bad decision and tragic event of our past makes us who we are today. And God will use every experience in our past for His glory now.
There’s not much in my life that I would change. Every single decision and event has shaped me into the person that I am today.
Is there something you would change in your life? Come to the porch and share your thoughts.