"But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 3:13-14 KJV
I recently heard from a young woman who was struggling with feelings of guilt and condemnation because of a decision she had made. She shared with me how she had been faced with two career opportunities. One was so extraordinary that almost everyone she spoke to about it said that she would be crazy not to take it. The other was more commonplace, and less impressive in the eyes of her friends and loved ones. Since the first job involved unique and extensive ministry opportunities, this woman felt sure in her heart that this was the path the Lord wanted her to take. Nevertheless, after much prayer and soul searching, she decided to accept the more ordinary opportunity. Though she thoroughly enjoyed her new job, she was plagued with feelings that she had "missed" God, and she began feeling more and more distant from Him. While she admitted that the Lord was still speaking to her through the Scriptures, and still blessing her in many ways, she couldn't deny that her feelings of guilt and condemnation were filling her with fear and doubt.
I told this young woman that I wasn't at all convinced that she missed God by turning down the opportunity that she did. Just because the people around her considered it too good to pass up, that didn't mean that it was the Lord's best for her. She obviously didn't have peace in her heart about doing it, and going against that peace could very well have resulted in devastating results. I told her that there have been many times when I made decisions based on what other people thought I should do--even though I lacked an inner peace about it--and wound up in a place where I never belonged. One such time was years ago when I was presented with the opportunity to work in the office of a successful attorney. Everyone told me that this was a job that could open doors for me. Instead of heeding the lack of peace in my heart, I took the job. From the very first day, I knew I had made a mistake. I was miserable, and I dreaded going to work every day. After only a few weeks, I left that job, feeling guilty about wasting my boss's time and energy, as well as my own.
So what if the young woman who wrote me really had missed God? I told her that if this was the case, it wasn't the end of the world. She should stop letting her fears and regrets haunt her, and she should lay them at the Lord's feet and leave them there. Then she would be more able to serve Him will all of her heart, instead of letting her misgivings steal her energy and her destiny. The truth is that we can't make progress as long as we are dragging regrets behind us. This kind of guilt will weigh us down and keep us from moving forward. It will affect our relationships with others, as well as with God Himself. The devil knows this, and that's why he spends so much time trying to make us feel guilty and condemned.
Do you feel as though you have missed God's will for your life in some respect? Please know that the Lord can give you a fresh beginning. Even if you missed out on God's "Plan A" for your life, rest assured that He has a "Plan B" waiting in the wings for you--a plan that can be just as bright and beautiful as His original one for you. Why? Because He sees your heart, and He knows how much you love Him and want to please Him. In the Book of Nehemiah, when God's laws were read publicly, the people began to weep because they realized how far they were from obeying them. Nehemiah gives them an interesting command. He tells them, "Be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold. " (Nehemiah 8:10 AMP) Beating ourselves up over the mistakes we've made--or think we've made--can weaken us and make us ineffective for God. Don't spend another moment wallowing in guilt and regret. Instead, lay your burden down at the foot of the Cross, and lay hold of the bright future that God has for you!
Prayer: Lord, give me the wisdom and discernment I need to walk in Your perfect will in every area of my life. Help me not to be led by people, but to always be led by Your Spirit. Thank You that You are greater than my mistakes, and You will lead me in the paths of Your greatest blessings as I trust in You!
- J. M. Farro