A Lifetime of Regret
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:6-7
The one addicted to drugs or alcohol usually has a lifetime of regrets. Addictive behavior is toxic to healthy relationships and so, he (or she) has burned a lot of bridges. He’s lost friends, family, marriages, jobs, faith, dignity, trust, self-respect, and a lot of money. Looking back honestly on his life is profoundly painful and so he actively avoids those thoughts if possible. When forced to look back, he’s overwhelmed with shame and regret. The only relief he knows for that misery is a temporary one, climbing back into the chemicals that robbed him of all those things in the first place.
There is another option, though it is a difficult one. Instead of continually engaging in behavior that he’s going to regret tomorrow, today, he could begin to build a different life, one without new regrets. He could embrace radical change, doing whatever it takes to find recovery. The problem is that he’s already so defeated and change is so hard. He uses the failures of the past, convincing himself that he can’t recover, because it’s simply too hard to do so. I’ve met a lot of people struggling with addiction who tell me they’d do anything to change. Then, when I suggest some real, practical options, they vehemently refuse. Hell no. I’m not going back to treatment.
In today’s passage, Paul talked about the end of his own life as if he had no regrets. It wasn’t that he’d not done shameful things in life. He once hunted and persecuted Christians. Paul though, had turned his life around. He’d embraced radical change, pouring his life out for God, following his will. Now, as he faced imminent execution by the Romans, he could look back on his life, proclaiming that he’d fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. Though he was once a villain, we now know him as Saint Paul.
We too may one day look back on our lives proclaiming that we’ve fought the good fight and kept the faith. Yes, we may have done shameful, regretful things. Yes, we may hurt those we’ve loved and embarrassed ourselves. If we’re willing though, we can become known for our recovery, instead of our addiction. Waiting until the end of our days is too late though. If we desire a life of no regrets, then today, we must turn it around. Today is the day to begin doing whatever it takes to abandon the old ways, pursuing a new life in Christ.