Last week I lived dangerously.
It all started out with a seemingly harmless tradition. Every time January 1st rolls around, I sit down to a time of planning and reflection. I enjoy dreaming up a few adventures for the new year, and I try to make an honest assessment of the year gone by.
Usually I end up with a heart filled with hope and an eagerness to tackle a brand new beginning. But things went awry last week when I found myself camping out, way too long, on some pesky little things called regrets: things I wish I hadn’t done; foolish things I’d said; or things I wish I’d been strong enough, disciplined enough, or even honest enough to say or do. The longer I focused on those mistakes and foolish choices, the deeper I fell into a treacherous place – the woeful world of “What If.”
But as I wallowed in that dangerous world, God brought a story to mind that pulled me up by the bootstraps and brought me back to a place of peace and hope.
My friend, LeeAnn, has an aunt who is in her 80s. Aunt Lib is an amazing woman: well-traveled, well-"adventured,” a gracious southern lady with a whole lot of stories to tell. In her youth, Aunt Lib’s big dream was to go to Israel. She pinched pennies for what seemed like ages until she had enough money to join a church group for a summer working on an Israeli archeological dig. Their day of departure was closing in when – go figure – a war broke out in Israel.
The trip was cancelled. Aunt Lib was devastated.
But being the positive, proactive woman she was – Aunt Lib decided to make the best of it. She promptly went out and spent all the money she'd saved on something else that brought a gleam to her eye.
That was 1967. Six days later the war was over, the trip was back on, and Aunt Lib was broke.
Desperate and dejected, she begged God for help.
Within days, a hail storm pummeled her car and covered it with dents. An insurance adjuster wrote out a check and, instead of fixing her car, she thanked God and boarded a plane bound for Israel.
Aunt Lib had the summer of her dreams.
When she got back home at the end of her trip, she discovered that the south had experienced the hottest summer on record. Moreover, the heat had caused all of the dents in her car to pop back out! Sure enough! God had repaired every dent! Her car was good as new!
A true story. An amazing answer to prayer! And a beautiful lesson for us all.
If you are looking back on days gone by and have found yourself in the world of "what if," take heart from Aunt Lib. We’ve all made decisions that we regret, but God is a God of redemption. He won’t always take away the consequences of what we have done, but He always has something good in store if we will learn from it, put it behind us, and ask Him for help.
He knows how to make something good out of anything, and He has the power to do whatever He wants. Just watch and see what He will do in your life if you let Him.
So let's break free from the world of "What If." Lift your head up, focus on the year ahead, and join me in a prayer I learned long ago...
"Oh God of second chances, here I am again."
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.”
- Isaiah 43:19