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The roads not taken

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reducing regret.

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The Road not taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Have you ever had to make a choice in life that you knew was final. A choice where you knew there was no going back to explore the other route. This famous poem by Robert Frost from 1916 reveals to us this is not a new problem and certainly not a problem suffered by a few but rather a key aspect of the human experience.
In my life I have made many choices. I choose what to wear this morning, although in fairness I sought my wife’s approval before I left the house. Some choices I’ve made were easier than others, like to have bacon or not to have bacon, that’s not a question.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
Then there are other decisions I have made that has lead to some regret. I regret my choice as a teenager to bleach my hair , then die a black ring around my head, and have a J shaved in the back of my head also died black. Oh yeah it looked as good as it sounds.
I took the one less traveled by,
I regret breaking my diet a couple of years ago because I have failed to reestablish good eating habits since. Probably my greatest regret is the three years I lost to rebellious living and self centred pity, when I choose to run from God rather than run to Him is my time of need.
And that has made all the difference.
We all have regrets, some more substantial than others, that mullet, parachute pants, It’s hammer time, failed marriages, unhealthy relationships, taking certain jobs things we did that we wish we could undo.
Of course then there are the regrets like Robert Frost was describing. Regrets created by choices we didn’t make. Man I wish I could go back and go to college. I wonder would it had been like if I would have moved when I had the chance.
The thing about regret is, all it does is make us feel bad. Unless you are the Dr. and you own your own Tardis time continues to be linear. Yes that was a Doctor Who reference for you less geeky people. We can not go back in time, we can not change the decisions of the past, and what regret does is keeps us looking back which causes us to miss opportunities of today creating more regrets and so the cycle remains unbroken.
But what if… what if there were a way to look forward, to surrender the past and those regrets, and let them lie, and focus on where we are and where we are going, and not forgetting the past but using the experiences to help guide us as we move forward to reduce the number of regrets we might have tomorrow.
As we enter into a new season, and the children head back to school and all the ministries that had taken a break for the summer get relaunched, and let us not forget the start of a new hunting season, I want to talk to you this morning about reducing regret.
As already stated we can’t change the past we can only learn from it, but what I want to talk to you about this morning is

How to make choices without regret.

To do this I have just one verse I want to read to you. It comes from Proverbs. The reason I am reading just one verse today is because of the design of proverbs. Most books and letters in the bible are designed to be read in big chunks in a single sitting as to keep the context in mind, proverbs on the other hand was written by Solomon as thought provoking statements that we need to meditate on and think about. Each Proverb is usually not dependent on the others around it, although there are sometimes themes that are gathered together. That said sometimes when reading the proverbs less is more if we read too many at a time we will often move on to a new thought before we have really thought about the first thought so Proverbs is meant to be read slowly, prayerfully, thoughtfully, and to meditate on them. With that said I want to read you Proverb 16:3
Proverbs 16:3 NLT
Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:3 NIV
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
Proverbs 16:3 ESV
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3 NKJV
Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.

Commit your plans to the Lord

Me: Ok so it’s no secret that I at times suffer from Anxiety. Of course along with my Anxiety comes the temptation to second guess every decision I ever make, and I do that right before I third guess it. Always worrying whether I’ve made the right choice or not has often wreaked havoc on my life. It is a miserable existence not having the confidence in your choices. That was until I learned this not so hidden secret. I can have confidence in my choices if I don’t make them alone. I learned this right around the time I asked my wife to be my wife. Scared to death I might make the wrong decision and create yet another regret in my life, I decided the best thing I could do is seek God. I prayed that God would help me to make the right decision. That my choice wouldn’t be my own, but that the Lord and I would share that choice. And from the moment I decided to ask I was confident I made the right choice. Can I tell you since then there has never been any doubt in my mind that I made the right choice. I couldn’t ask for a more wonderful wife. So what made the difference, what turned a anxiety ridden young man turn to such confidence in his decision making? The difference was God. See my confidence was no longer placed in my ability to make good choices, my confidence was in God who knows the end from the beginning, and although the choice was mine I did not make it alone. God through The Holy Spirit helped calm my mind and heart, and in that moment I was able to to make a choice without regret.
We: What would it be like if we included God in our decision making process. Where we made decisions not just based on our emotions at the time, but rather based on spending time with God and allowing Him to provide guidance.
God: That is what this Proverb is all about. Solomon in his wisdom given by God wanted us to understand that if we will include God in our decision making, than we will be able to have confidence knowing that God was a part of the decision.
Proverbs 16:3 NLT
Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:3
Proverbs 16:3 NIV
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
Proverbs 16:3 ESV
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
The idea here is that not only will God make you feel good about your choice He will actually plot a course for you. In other words He will make the right path clear. Opening and closing doors, and so your confidence can be placed in Him rather than our own abilities.
You: I know what you are thinking. But pastor I’ve tried that in the past but I didn’t know if I was hearing from God or not. I’ve been there. You feel completely frozen waiting on the LORD. Sometimes committing your plan to the Lord, means being honest, asking letting Him know what path you are thinking of taking and asking him to close the door if it is the wrong path.
We: let us be clear this takes faith. But one thing we need to understand is life is a lot like driving a car. We can sit behind the wheel turning it like crazy, left and right and back again, but if the car isn’t moving it doesn’t go anywhere. What we are saying is Ask God to show you the way then start driving surrendering control of your vessel to His will, And I should add sorry but God will never tell you do do something He already told you not to do in His word, like leave your spouse because you don’t “LOVE them any more”. Understanding that when we do this we can have the confidence in our choices knowing we did not make them alone.

Next Step

Write down a decision you are struggling to make, and bring it to the Altar and Surrender or commit your plans to the Lord.
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