Decision making

Got Regret? What to Do If You'd Like a 'Do-Over'

Another hour ticked away on the clock as I lay awake tossing and turning, going over and over again in my mind the purchase my husband and I had made earlier that day that was not able to be returned. We were stuck with our choice, like it or not.. I felt tormented by thoughts that we had made a foolish decision, one that we would regret. Had we been led by FOMO—the fear of ‘missing out’— on a good deal?  I knew that our choice was not ‘sinful’ per se, and that most people wouldn’t understand what I was feeling; however, I felt the weight of regret that we hadn’t truly sought the Lord’s counsel before making the decision. I was keenly aware that I always felt peace after making a decision where I knew that we’d been led by the Lord, which was in sharp contrast to the unrest I was feeling for having ‘jumped the gun’ before hearing a clear word from God. I knew the conviction I felt was good because it was a sign of the Holy Spirit at work in my life, and necessary to cause me to recognize where we ‘missed the mark’ so we would go back to God in repentance. However, I was also overwhelmed by a feeling that was far more than conviction; I was battling against Satan—the Accuser of the Brethren—who was working overtime to heap condemnation upon me, drown me in guilt, and create a breach in my relationship with God, my Heavenly Father.

As I considered the decision we had made—a decision that people make every day without giving a second thought to consulting God, it occurred to me that before becoming a Christian, I too had never bothered to seek the Lord’s guidance and wisdom on everyday— or even major— life decisions. Other decisions I had made throughout my life flashed before my mind, and I realized how often I could’ve avoided regret and heartache had I only sought the Lord and His counsel, rather than relying upon my own wisdom! As a committed believer for over 25 years who knows the joy of walking with the Lord and relying upon Him and His counsel, I was grief-stricken that I had fallen prey once again to my presumptuous sin of pride, for it was pride that was at the root of our not consulting the Lord. As I lay there tossing and turning that night, I pictured Jesus dying for every one of my sins, including my sin of doing things ‘my way’ rather than looking to and following Him Who is ‘The Way’. Oh, what a merciful Savior we have whose blood shed on the cross covers our sins of commission, but also our sins of omission— like operating in our own wisdom and understanding rather than seeking the Lord’s wisdom and counsel before making decisions!

So, what about you? Have you ever made a decision that you later regretted? A time when you sorely wished you could have a ‘do-over’? Maybe you bought what you thought was your ‘dream home’, but it turned out to be a money pit instead. Or perhaps you moved from a small town to a big city hoping for ‘great adventure’, but once the newness of the big city wore off you regretted leaving your family and friends. Or maybe you took a job you really didn’t want because you felt desperate for the income, but once on-the-job, you felt stuck there when the job market changed. Or, maybe you bought a used car and it turned out to be a lemon. Or,  perhaps you bought a non-returnable, expensive dress while on vacation but you never lost the weight you’d hoped to so it  remained unworn in your closet. Or, far more importantly, maybe you raised your children based upon the world’s wisdom or in your own understanding rather than according to God’s instructions as found in the Bible, and you now so regret that you have ‘reaped what you have sown’. Whatever the decision you made that you later regretted, you may look back now and think, as I did: What if I had consulted the Lord and not relied upon my own understanding before making that decision? Perhaps you would’ve made the same decision, perhaps not. However, if you’d first consulted the Word of God and obeyed His leading, you would have had the peace of knowing that God, Who is All Knowing and All Wise, had led you to make the decision, and you would have been able to rest in that knowledge and assurance, even if the results were not what you might have desired. His ways are ALWAYS the right and best ways, even when we can’t understand them from our limited perspective!

Trust in the Lord.jpg

So, what should you do once you realize that you relied upon your own wisdom rather than upon God’s and you made a decision you now regret:

1) Turn to God and ask Him to forgive you for not consulting Him, for trusting in your own wisdom rather than seeking and putting your faith in His wisdom. I encourage you to picture yourself going to God as your Heavenly Father and pour your heart out to Him. I know that when I pictured doing that during the night when I was ‘tossing and turning over my decision, I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me, “You know that your earthly father would forgive you for not consulting him, so how much more will your Heavenly Father forgive you?”(Matthew 7:11) Peace flooded my soul as I sensed His lavish grace extended to me!

2) Receive and live in the reality of the forgiveness that the Lord purchased for you on the cross, and do not allow Satan to torment you with guilt for your decision once you’ve acknowledged your sorrow to the Lord. When Satan comes in ‘like a flood’ to heap condemnation upon you, remind him that you are a blood-bought child of God who is fully forgiven, and that NOTHING can separate you from the love of your heavenly Father!

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death….

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:1-2,38-39 ESV

Also, remind Satan that God is able to make something beautiful even from your poor choices—like using them to remind you of how desperately You need God’s wisdom, and to remind you that God loves you so much that He sent Jesus to pay the price for your every bad decision even before it was ever made! The purchase that I had regretted making so much that night has now become a daily reminder to me of God’s Father’s heart for me and His unwavering grace in my life!

3) Be prepared and willing to face the consequences of a decision you made based upon your wisdom rather than God’s. Yes, you are forgiven by God and your sin is removed ‘as far as the east is from the west’ (Psalm 103:12), but that does not necessarily mean that you won’t endure some painful consequences for acting in your own understanding rather than seeking God’s. In fact, the consequences we face can be the very instrument of God’s grace in our life that He uses to humble us and cause us to become more reliant upon His always trustworthy counsel. Make sure to inquire of the Lord and obey His leading as you go through whatever consequences you may have to face for the decision you made. For example, I know a couple who purchased what they thought was the best home in their area for the price they could afford—they leaned on their own understanding— but after the purchase they encountered major issues that could be very costly. Besides pouring their heart out to the Lord and asking for His forgiveness for not seeking His wisdom prior to their purchase, they need to invite God into their current situation, seek His counsel, and rely upon His wisdom as they respond to the consequences of the house choice they made. 

4) Determine in the future to seek the Lord’s counsel before making decisions, and ask God to convict you every time you act as if your life  and your resources are ‘yours’, rather than His. Remind yourself that you have been created by God for His purpose and His glory, bought with the blood of Jesus so ‘your life’  really belongs to Him, and it is only by His power that you ‘live and move and have your being’. (Isaiah 43:7; 1 Corinthians 6:20;Acts 17:28) Invite God to come into and take over every area of your life so that you are always trusting in Him rather than in yourself and your limited understanding.

5) Praise God that His grace abounds and that He is rich in mercy! Praise Him that every sin, every poor choice you have ever made or will ever make was laid at the cross and covered by the blood of Jesus and you bear your sin no more! And praise Him that He can work ALL things together for your good—even the poor choices you have made based upon your human understanding, and even the poor decisions you may make in the future (Romans 8:28) In fact, our poor decisions showcase our desperate need for God’s wisdom! If we desire to be wise and want what’s best for us, we will learn from our poor choices that we need to fully trust in and rely upon God at all times and for all of our decisions, for He will lead us in paths of righteousness for our good, and for His name’s sake! (Psalm 23:3)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. 

It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV

Lord, forgive me for the many times I have failed to consult you before making a decision. Forgive me for my pride that assumes that I don’t need You, or that I know more or better than You, and my rebellion that sometimes wants things ‘my way’ rather than Your way. I acknowledge that You are All Knowing, All Wise, Lavish in Your Love, and that Your ways are always so much higher than mine! I need You, Lord, oh, how I need You, every hour I need You! Help me to trust You at all times and for all things. I praise You for Your unconditional love, and that You are able to make all things beautiful and something that declares Your glory, even the ‘ashes’ of my poor choices!  Amen.

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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The Life-Changing Difference that Asking Makes

I am the mother of four adult children—plus three wonderful daughter-in-laws, all of whom I love dearly. I’m very grateful to God for the relationship I have with each of them, and I try not to be an interfering, overbearing mother or mother-in-law—although they might tell you that my ‘trying’ needs some improvement! I admit there are occasions when I’ve had to ‘bite my tongue’ so I don’t overstep my bounds and give unsolicited advice. I readily admit that because I love them, want to help them, and have ‘been where they’ve been before’, there are things I’d love to share with them that I think could be helpful to them…in their marriages, as they parent, and for their life in general. But I haven’t shared a lot of that advice. Why? Simply because they haven’t asked me for it! 

 I’ve also thought back and can now realize how much heartbreak I could’ve avoided in my own life if only I’d asked my parents for their advice…on things like boyfriends, peer pressure, marital problems, parenting, and financial decisions. I also have thought of times when I might have avoided pain if I’d only asked a godly friend for her counsel before proceeding to do things I chose to do, and later regretted. What about you? Can you think of times when you might have avoided poor or painful choices if only you’d asked someone for advice?

 What is it that kept me from asking my parents or others for advice, or causes you to not ask for others’ counsel? When it gets right down to it, like most things, doesn’t it come down to the big ugly thing in all of our lives… that thing called ‘Pride? I thought that I knew what was best for my life and didn’t think I had a need to confer with anyone else. Or, when I did seek advice, I think I often sought it from people I knew would agree with what I’d already decided I was going to do; I usually wasn’t looking for advice as much as for affirmation. There were also times when I operated in ignorance. I didn’t even realize that there was another way of doing things so I didn’t even think to ask anyone for their advice. I just presumed that I should do what I thought was best without ever seeking counsel from my parents, my pastor, godly friends, and most regrettably, God.

 I’m not the only one who didn’t ask for advice and suffered the consequences of not doing so. Courageous, God-fearing Joshua had been told by God not to make a treaty with any of the people in the Promised Land, lest they be a snare to the people of Israel and turn them away from God. Yet, he made a binding treaty with the Gibeonites who were natives of the land because they pretended to be foreigners who had come from a long distance. Joshua disobeyed God’s strict instruction because he failed to inquire of God before making the treaty with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:14). He and the leaders did what was right ‘in their own eyes’ and presumed upon their own understanding rather than asking God for His wisdom, guidance, and counsel that would have kept them from sinning against Him. 

 In contrast, it is frequently recorded in scripture that David, who had a ‘heart after God’ (Acts 13:22) often asked God for His counsel before taking action. For instance, David asked God whether he and his men should attack the Philistines who were fighting against the people of the town of Keilah. In response, God told David that He would give the Philistines into his hands; and it was because David asked and obeyed God that he defeated the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah. David could easily have presumed that since God gave him that victory—a victory that resulted in the people of Keilah being saved--that the people of Keilah would in turn save him from King Saul who sought to take his life. Yet, rather than act on his presumption, David once again inquired of the Lord. The Lord told him that the people of Keilah would indeed turn him and his men over to Saul, so David and his men fled Keilah and escaped to the desert. David’s asking of the Lord saved not only his own life, but also the lives of the approximately 600 men with him (1 Samuel 23). How important is it that we ask for God’s counsel? It literally can be life saving! 


 How about you? What pain have you unintentionally brought on yourself or others because you failed to inquire of the Lord before taking action? Perhaps you have had a failed or miserable marriage because you married the person of your choosing without inquiring of the Lord. Or, maybe you’ve had financial problems because you made purchases without asking God if He wanted that money (which is really His money since everything we have belongs to God) to be spent on those purchases.  Or, perhaps you have a wayward child and you’ve experienced great pain and wish that you had sought God’s counsel on raising and responding to him or her. Whatever the situation, it’s important to realize that it’s never too late to seek God’s counsel! He is an ever-present help for you and for me and He longs to give us His wise counsel! God is more than able to make beauty from the ashes we have made! (Isaiah 61:3)

 Can you also think of a time when you sought and obeyed God’s counsel and He spared you--or others- from pain because you asked and obeyed Him?

 As much as I would love my children and their spouses to come to me and ask for my advice so that I might help them avoid making mistakes they might regret, my FAR greater desire is that they daily go to their Heavenly Father and inquire of Him, ‘What is it, Lord, that You would have me to do?” I hope and pray that they ask the Lord for His counsel—and obey His leading-- on such decisions as: “Should I marry this person?” or “Should we buy this house?” or “Should I take this job or volunteer assignment?” or “Should I go into business with this person?” or “Should I invest Your money in making this home improvement, or on buying this car?” as well as on things such as, “Whom should I contact today to encourage them?” or “What would You like me to do this weekend?” and especially to ask Him, “What would You like me to do with the gifts, talents and abilities that You’ve entrusted to me?”

 God is the wisest Person in the Universe. As His children, we have the amazing privilege of being able to come before Him each and every day and ask Him what we should do regarding the ‘small’ as well as ‘big’ decisions in our life. Wouldn’t we be foolish not to take advantage of the incredible opportunity we have to ask the Greatest Counselor in the World for His perfect, all-knowing counsel? Especially when He is the One Who knows us best and loves us the most?

 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5- ESV

 The more we read God’s Word, the wiser we become, and the wiser we become, the more we realize that we desperately need God’s wisdom in every area of our life if we desire to be protected from harm and live a God-pleasing, regret-free, joy-filled, abundant life. 

 There is a cost to obtain that wisdom. It requires us humbling ourselves, exercising self-control so we don’t just act upon our own understanding-- as Joshua and the Israel leaders did when they made the treaty-- and taking the time to ask God, to really listen to Him, and then to obey the counsel the Holy Spirit gives to us. 

If we inquire of God and obey His wise counsel we will be able to eliminate regret in our lives and the worry that often comes from wondering if we made the right decision, because God’s counsel is always right, and He always has our best interest in mind!

 Lord, forgive me for the many times when I have acted as if my life is my own and not Yours, and I have done what I have thought was best without inquiring of You. I believe that You always and only want what is best for me, and You alone know what the ‘best’ is! Help me to always look to You and ask, “What would You have me do?” Give me ears to hear Your voice, and a heart willing to obey whatever it is that You tell me! Thank You, Lord, for always being available to me and for loving me! Amen.

 Written by Julie

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