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!
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