I Thought I’d Ruined My Life!

Rarely a week goes by that I don’t, at some point, reflect on my past. For the most part, I’ve put my mistakes behind me. I’ve acknowledged my errors, sought forgiveness for my sins, and come to terms with where God has me, now. When I look back, I can see how God rescued me from the full consequences of my bad decisions. Most notably, He kept me from marrying a man who called himself a Christian, but was not a born again follower of Christ. It took me way too long to recognize God’s grace in that situation.

I know that God has always been at work in my life, and He has shown me grace in my sins and errors. Still, in the back of my mind, I’ve been haunted by the belief that I ruined my life when I decided to pursue a relationship with a man at the cost of my career as a Coast Guard officer. I always felt that I needed to take responsibility for my actions, so it took me ten years to even admit to myself that depression played a role in my bad choices. I had to get the depression under control to be rational enough to see how emotionally unstable and irrational I had been. But that didn’t change the fact that my life had been irreparably altered. In everything that happened, I could see God’s hand of grace and faithfulness in my life, but I couldn’t see His sovereignty.

He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.

Psalm 103:7-10

At church last Sunday, the pastor spoke about making decisions. He showed how God had worked through the different decisions people made throughout the book of Exodus. Starting with the Hebrew midwives choosing to disobey Pharaoh and let the baby boys live, he listed the different decisions that were made. Everything lead to God ushering the Israelites out of Egypt. One of the decisions listed was Moses killing the Egyptian (Exodus 2:11-15). What a life-changer that was! This caught my attention, so I took a closer look at the event. It is difficult to determine whether Moses was justified in killing the man. The sermon of Stephen, recorded in Acts 7, puts the act in a slightly more favorable light than the Exodus account. But the way Moses looked around to be sure no was was watching and then tried to hide the body, seems to indicate that he wasn’t intervening to save the man’s life. He was acting guilty, which is an indication that he knew he was in the wrong. Of course, word about the killing got around, so Moses fled. It took him from his cushy spot in the palace to the wilderness to be a shepherd.

As I studied this part of Moses’ life, I found that it was recorded in Acts that Moses was forty years old when he killed the Egyptian and fled. Exodus records that he was eighty years old when God brought him back to Egypt to lead the people out. This means that he was a shepherd in the wilderness for forty years. It cannot be a coincidence that God would then have Moses shepherd Israel in the wilderness for forty years. It must have been planned. But Moses murdered a man! How could that be part of God’s plan? Yet it seems clear that during the resulting exile God was preparing Moses, and laying the groundwork in Egypt, for the great plan He had to lead His people out of slavery and bring glory to His Name.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:33-36

I am considering my past in a new light. Just as God intervened in other things, He could have kept me in the Coast Guard, if He had wanted to. He could have done a lot of different things in my life. I’ve always known that regret is a waste of time, but I am suddenly seeing that truth more clearly. This side of heaven, I can’t know where my responsibility ends and His sovereignty begins, but that doesn’t mean I should be carrying this regret around as though God was not in control of the events in my life. There is freedom in knowing that my life is in His hands.

For four years at the Coast Guard Academy, I was always aware that He wanted me to be there because it was only through His miraculous intervention that I was able to stay. But apparently I didn’t learn from this; I carried the burden of thinking that somehow I had spoiled His plan. But it was only my own plans that I wrecked! After all, God’s plans cannot be thwarted. Who am I to think that I can resist His will? Just as the events of Moses life led to God’s demonstration of His glory, I pray that somehow, my life might glorify God. As He humbles me and draws me closer to Him, I often feel that I am on the cusp of something. It is as though He is making me ready to answer a call. I pray that I will be ready and willing to trust and obey. Your will be done in my life, Lord.

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