Guilt and Regret

I was catching up on my Google Reader when I came across a post by Jon Acuff from a couple days ago. To say it hit me like a ton of bricks would be an understatement; something – I’m not sure what, exactly – just clicked.  The message isn’t anything new, and I’m sure I’ve heard very similar words spoken (or written) before – but right now, this is what stood out.

I don’t know the specifics of your situation. There are some circumstances where we are called to act and have the chance to do something and we don’t. But I think far more often we make the same mistake Brian made. We look back on yesterday or last year or ten years ago and we think we could have done something differently. And if I could tell you the same thing I told Brian, it would be pretty simple.

“God didn’t ask you to be God that day.”

God didn’t turn the reins over to you that day. Just like he didn’t ask Brian to handle a stranger’s aorta tear in the gym, he didn’t ask you to be the God of any particular situation. He is still God. He is still in control. He is still on the throne. And when we act otherwise, it must pain him so.

A friend of mine is going through some very tough times right now, to the extent that I have lately felt guilty about dwelling my own problems when someone I knew was dealing with something far more significant.  About a week ago, we talked briefly about his situation, after I’d read a Facebook post of his talking about his current study of the book of Job.  And as we discussed what was going on, rather than complaining to me, he asked how I was doing. I explained that his post had really encouraged me in my own situation, and he said he was glad he was able to help, and that he’d be praying for me.

Have you ever felt guilty when someone was good to you? That guilt that washes over you when someone goes above and beyond for you, sacrifices something on your behalf, or forgives you of something you might not be able to forgive? You might call it “grace guilt.” That’s how I felt that night. And so rather than feeling sorry for myself, my mind started to twist itself in new ways – if only this, if only that, if only, if only… And some of those things were genuinely in my control, things I could have done better. Others were not, but I have trouble letting go anyway. Now I’m beginning to realize that the attitude I have toward those situations is wrong.

So when I read Acuff’s post, and he said “God didn’t ask you to be God,” it hit me. I need to stop trying to play god. I need that trust. I need that reliance and faith that my friend has as he studies Job. I don’t have it yet, but God willing, I’ll get there.

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