Who among us can make a bold statement such as, “I have no regrets in life?” As Christians, we know that we will never regret not sinning but at the same time, we continue to sin in this fallen world. We who are redeemed are undoubtedly filled with the regrets of our sins, yet we cling to hope in the redemptive work of Christ to persevere and move forward. So, how can we not have agony over our regrets? When we take the time to fill ourselves with the cares, concerns, and pleasures of this world, do we ever look back at what could have been?
My wife shared with me a page from John Piper’s book called, “21 Servants of Sovereign Joy” and I read an excerpt from Piper’s chapter on John Calvin. Upon reading this page, the agony of lost opportunity consumed me. Piper writes, “Does not our heart burn when we hear God say, “My name is, ‘I AM WHO I AM‘”? The absoluteness of God’s existence–God’s never beginning, never ending, never becoming, never improving, simply and absolutely there to be dealt with on his terms or not at all–enthralls the mind.”
The Lord utilizes this specific name for himself in John 8:58 which resulted in the Jews picking up stones to stone him. The power and implication of “I AM” cannot be understated nor is it misapplied to Jesus either. After all, Paul says in Colossians, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” This means that in Jesus the “I AM” is pleased to dwell since Jesus is the perfect manifestation of God in the flesh. Utilizing Piper’s quote we can clearly see that the “absoluteness of God’s existence…” applies intrinsically to the Lord Jesus as well. Where then does the agony of lost opportunity come? What’s the point in speaking of regret in the midst of this doxology of the Trinity?
The agony of lost opportunity emerges in the realization of wasted and lost time. The agony rears its ugly head when we look back and think of the time wasted when we could have studied and meditated on the revealed Word of the living and awesome God who has made himself known to humanity through his Son. The agony consumes us when we contemplate what could have been in our relationships, our work lives, and our family lives if we had pursued a greater maturity, understanding, and relationship with our Creator.
How much better could we have discipled and ministered to our families, our churches, and those within our spheres of influence if we had pursued our glorious God to a greater degree? The blessings from increased maturity, knowledge, wisdom, and love for God for ourselves and those around us are lost in the passage of time; never to be reclaimed or restored. Is this an agony we can live with? Is this a pain we can die with?
What matters most in all of existence is the Lord God and by God’s grace we will live accordingly. Let us pray that the Lord would guide us, through His Word, away from living and dying with the agony of lost opportunity.