It would be a sad thing to get to the end of your life only to say, “I sensed that God wanted me to do something significant with my life, but I was afraid that I would never be able to do it, so I took the safe route.” William Borden was only 25 years old when he died of meningitis in Egypt, where he was preparing himself to be a missionary in the Muslim world. A quote found written in his Bible—“No reserves, no retreats, no regrets”—demonstrated that he had indeed counted the cost: that he had no regrets about the life decisions he had made. I want to live like William Borden—a life with no regrets.
I remember hearing an older friend of mine reflect on the times in his life when he had to decide between two different paths. Looking backward, he saw how blessed he had been each time he chose the harder, riskier path. He knew if he had chosen the easier path, he would have regretted it. What he said reminded me of the famous lines in Robert Frost’s poem: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.” You don’t usually hear people regretting having taken some risks in life. I have, however, heard people share their wish to have taken more risks instead of always playing it safe. Brennan Manning’s grandmother used to say, “To live without risk is to risk not living.” Life is too short to live with regrets of any kind.
One of first times I remember feeling regret was in junior high school. I had gone to the county fair, and my dad had given me $10 (that was a lot of money in those days!). He warned me not to spend it too quickly—it was supposed to last me the whole day. I think he even said something about spending it wisely and having something to show for it at the end of the day. But I wasn’t listening very well, for I was mesmerized by the carnival hawkers and all their booths. I could grab a treasure using the cranked claw. I could get my girlfriend a stuffed animal by pitching a baseball into a milk can. And tossing coins into glass cups and dishes looked so easy that I just knew I could get something special for my mom. But within the first hour, I had spent all my money, and I had nothing to show for it. I regretted how quickly I had spent the money, but too late—now it was all gone. Life is like a ten dollar bill; you can spend it on anything, but you only get to spend it once.
REFLECTIONS: Stop right now and ask yourself, “If I were to die today, what regrets would I have?” Think about potential regrets having to do with all the roles you play in life. What practical things can you do to address these potential regrets? Make a list, and start checking off items. Have you been guilty of “playing it safe” with your life or have you totally surrendered all to the Lord, with no regrets?
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.