By Lisa Huddleston
“Wherever you are, be all there.”—Jim Elliot
Death is in the news. Michael Jackson. Farrah Fawcett. Steve McNair. Talent. Beauty. Strength. Shining stars in the cultural heavens, yet as frail and impermanent as the rest of us. And while fans—many who oddly grieve as those who have lost family members—challenge us to “remember him for all the good things he did.” The truth is the truth. Each person’s path is made by his journey, and the steps that each one takes lay a course that cannot be undone. Good and bad. A whole life is made up of a series of smaller pieces laid end to end like stepping stones. No stone can be skipped if one is to arrive at the determined destination.
As I ponder the lives of these icons—and one can hardly help it given the vast amounts of media attention that has been dedicated to them—I am forced to think about the missteps on my own life’s path. Choices I wish I could unmake. Actions I hope will never be revealed to my adoring fans (as if). Even times of inactivity that I wish I could relive with more passion. “Wasted days and wasted nights” … anyone else singing the same song about now?
But living in the past is just continuing to waste the present. Although as believers our mistakes (some may call them “sins”) are gracefully forgiven—washed as white as snow and removed as far away as the east is from the west—it is sometimes hard for us to stop living lives of regret. It’s just too easy to play the “What If” game. What if I’d taken that other job? What if I’d married someone else? What if I’d stayed home that night? What if I’d never driven that car? Pointless questions because the facts are that the past is past. And the past, even your mistakes, have carried you to the place where you are today. Every step can be worthwhile if you let it finally lead you to the truth of today.
Oh oh—there’s that word truth again. “Whose truth?” you may ask. The Truth. The truth that you are not your own. That your life was created and loaned to you for a short amount of time. That you are dependent on your Creator for the sun that shines and the rain that falls. And that no one but that Creator knows the number of your days. Nothing you do will ever be hidden from Him or be able to thwart His plans for your life.
Now I’m in over my head. Do I mean that even the mistakes we make are a part of His plan for our lives? Good question. I wish I could give you as good a response, but this is what I believe. God knit us together in our mothers’ wombs. He numbers the hairs on our heads and gathers our tears into His bosom. He has prepared good works for us to do, and He alone has made a way for us to arrive in His presence. But He lets us walk the path we choose. He knows what steps we will take, but still He lets us take them. No surprises. No real mistakes. Nothing that changes His plan … but still—always—the freedom to choose.
This is the day that the Lord has made (Psalm 118:24). How will I choose to walk in it? Will I waste it in regret or will I rejoice and be glad in it? This is the day. Step out.