Friday, September 5, 2014

"Almost Glad that I Had Sinned:" A Reason for Regret and a Reason for Cheer

On a popular {food} blog I sometimes read, the writer mentioned that she had made many {non-food-related} "mistakes" in her life ... and that she was sorry for none of them. They made her, she claimed, into the person she has become, a person of whom she is very proud.

I blinked at the screen a few times and re-read the paragraph, wanting to ascertain that I'd read that correctly. She was proud of her mistakes? She regretted none of them?


Well, I'll speak for myself only - I regret my "mistakes."

Yes, unfortunately, they have left their stamp on my life and person. And I'm not proud of them. I regret them. I regret my faithlessness when I haven't trusted God's perfect will for me, when I have believed the lie that He is not sufficient, when I have turned to my own paths and means, giving reason for those outside the fold to jeer and think less of the God whom I serve.

And yet...

Yet I am glad for the means of mercy which my errors have been. A stream through which our Heavenly Father could pour His redeeming love, a canvas upon which He could paint a picture of His unconditional faithfulness.

I am sorry for my mistakes - for my sins. I look at them and sigh.

And then I look at Christ. At His perfect beauty. At His supreme goodness. At His great love for sinners. At His passion to make them holy.

Sinners such as I am. "Mistakers" such as I. "Regreters" such as I.

It is the kind of mercy that, as George MacDonald says in Phantastes, "makes me almost glad that I had sinned," that I might be forgiven.

My musically-inclined husband has tattoos on his shoulders: treble clefs indelibly printed on his skin. He isn't proud of them; they remind him of his days of darkness, before he met his Savior. People have tried to be helpful and mentioned to me that tattoos can be removed... yet I prefer that my husband keeps them. They're a continual visual reminder of God's grace to my husband and to me, in giving me a godly man who has turned his face away from his past sins.

And perhaps, perhaps, perhaps... I wonder is that how we - how I - must come to regard all those things we regret ...?

Not as badges of honor because they've "made us into the people we are..."

But humbly, with gratitude that He works all things together for good... as evidence of His very magnificent grace?

"Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, which You have sworn to our fathers from days of old."

Micah 7:18-20 {nkjv}

Cornerstone Confessions


  1. This, once again, is beautiful! And full of truth. I loved the verse at the end. Sometimes I really need to be reminded of His great mercy towards us!

    1. So glad this encouraged you! :-) Preaching the gospel to myself, as they say...

  2. Thank you for this post! I have many regrets.... and yet, I can see that through His mercy God has used those to make me useful to others. That I have learned lessons through them, I may not have learned without them. But I still regret....

    1. That's so true for all of us... May He make our bitter waters sweet, Amy!

  3. When he first got those tattoos, I wasn't sure how I felt about them. In time I came to view them as an expression of his love of music, and the wonderful gift that God has blessed him with. I miss hearing him play.

    I have some regrets. I've done my share of "What if"ing over the years. Our Lord didn't give any of us a "do over" option. What he did give us was his forgiveness....forgiveness of our sins and imperfections. He gave us the opportunity to take the knowledge of that forgiveness and use it to help others.

  4. Might that be a bit of what Paul meant when he said that he gloried in his weakness, because when he was weak, then God was strong?

    I do have to point out, though, that I don't necessarily consider "mistake" and "sin" to be synonymous. And I wonder what implication is or isn't intended by "regret." There are people who are so busy dwelling on all they've done wrong that they can't even move forward. Clearly that's not beneficial. Recognizing and accepting that all that has gone before - even our own failures - is part of the story God is writing could reasonably be described as "no regrets," without necessarily intending to convey the idea of "not caring" that we'd fallen short. It probably depends on how each individual views "regret."

    1. Hi, Rachel! I agree with you: Mistakes and sins aren’t synonymous. However, in the original post that I referenced, the blogger clearly used “mistakes” to mean blatant “sins,” to the extent of saying that she was not sorry that she had hurt people. So I’ve kept her wording, adding quotation marks to indicate that, as a Christian, I would call these “mistakes” something different.

      You’re right to point out that connotation matters as much as denotation; here, I’m going by the classic meaning of “regret:” remorse, repentance, sorrow, contrition, a sense of shame. Like you said, the Apostle Paul is a great example of retaining our regret over past “mistakes”/sins and yet glorying in Christ’s mercy – Remembering God’s grace to us, rather than being paralyzed by our failures. Doing this without minimizing our sin and its effect while maximizing the glory of God is key.

      Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians beautifully illustrate this paradox: “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” {1 Cor. 15:9-10 nkjv}

      Thanks for stopping by and adding your input!

  5. This is beautiful. It is truly the sweet, merciful gift of Calvary that works all things together for good--His grace is lovelier when we can see it through the lens of regret and the mercy that covers our sins and makes them whiter than snow. Thank you for this post and for that reminder; it really spoke to me.


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