A man sits on the dock with head in hands, wailing for the ships that have sailed---as he is missing the ship that is sailing. This is a story of my life, of living in regret over past losses, even as I am losing the present moment's possibilities.
In my 20s I thought all was lost. I chose despair and plunged headlong into a funk---and more disaster. In my 30s, when I saw what I had done, I plunged into yet more despair rather than learn my lesson. I lamented that I had been wrong in my 20s to think it was too late then---but that surely it was really too late now! So I dug into a costly depression. Despair over former fatal choices was itself the fatal choice that I continued to make. It is shameful to tell you all this. But at my age, I am grateful to serve as even a bad example if it will help someone.
Satan, with sweet rationalizations, tempts us to sin. And then, when we have followed his counsel, he switches sides to be the Accuser. It is hard to see this for what it is---the last lie in his quiver---because it comes with a semblance of righteousness: "I have sinned so badly that I have no right to joy again." This is counterfeit repentance. Scripture tells us how to know a false repentance from a true one. The former kills, but the latter brings good things into your life:
"I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death" (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).
I am a watchman calling out from the milestone of 58 years, to you coming up behind me at 28 and 38 and 48. And this is what I cry: Never say it's "too late," and it's "no use," no matter what you have done---and I do not doubt you have done plenty. The command to repent and believe is not issued to pretty good people but to the ungodly. If the gospel is not good for your present estate it's not good for anything. Christ still stands at the door and knocks. The words "Nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37) are still true. "Do not fear; only believe" (Mark 5:36) is still addressed to you. You are not the one person in history that God's grace is not going to work for. To refuse to believe in His love and to put your hope in Him---"Today, while it is still today" (Hebrews 3:13)---is to miss the boat that's docked and waiting.
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