One of the ways I feel closest to God is when I am taking in His creation. Much like when re-reading the Bible, I can walk down the same paths over and over again and still walk away encouraged, or with my eyes opened to a new aspect of Truth.
I walk to my local library once a week. I enjoy observing how the trees and plants change along the path as the seasons come and go.
There’s an apple tree in one of the yards I pass. Last fall, I noticed that almost all of the apples had dropped or been harvested from the tree except for a few on one small section of branches. These apples never dropped, and stayed on the tree through the harvest season. They hung from their branches like odd little ornaments through Christmas and remained frozen throughout the winter. Come the Canadian version of spring, they froze and thawed multiple times. By the time the weather finally made up its mind, these apples had thawed to mush and were beginning to rot where they hung.
As the weather warmed, the rest of the tree began to embrace the new season. I could see the buds beginning to swell, and as the weeks passed, I noticed flecks of green beginning to sprout on many of the branches as I walked by. But those few branches with the old fruit had no blooming buds or green shoots. Those branches could not enter into the new season because they had not let go of last season’s rotting fruit.
The decaying fruit on that tree brought to mind memories of regret, specifically in my spiritual walk. I can remember two particular instances in my life where I felt as though God was urging me to reach out to an individual who was visibly distressed. The first was in 10th grade, and the second time was at a mall.
In that first instance in 10th grade, I convinced myself to prioritize being a punctual student over trying to comfort a distressed girl I noticed, as I had felt God urging me to do. The second opportunity came towards the end of high school at the mall, where once again a woman was sitting alone and weeping openly. I would like to say that I learned from last time, but unfortunately I was still too hesitant.
Looking back to that time in the mall, I can remember thinking about the girl I had not approached in Grade 10 and wasting time struggling over that regret, even though God had placed another opportunity right in front of me. I hadn’t let go of that regret and because of that, I missed the chance to reach out to another person.
All of us are constantly transitioning into new seasons in our lives. There are seasons of age, seasons in our career paths, seasons in relationships and of relationships, spiritual seasons, financial seasons, emotional seasons and seasons of revelation, to name a few.
In all of these seasons, there are opportunities that come our way to grow. These opportunities are like the apples on that apple tree. There is a season of growth, and then a point where they have reached maturity and are in their prime. This is the best time to act on the opportunity because we can reap all it has to offer. Sometimes we might act to a little too early or a little too late and not reap the full benefits of that opportunity.
Other times, we miss the opportunity entirely and get caught up in our ruminating and regret. We cling to what could have been, even as God is providing us with new opportunities and trying to usher us into a new season in that aspect of our lives.
If we’re hung up on last season’s fruit, we can’t step into a new season.
In our humanity, we will miss some of the chances to grow that God gives us. But Lamentations 3: 22-23 tells us that His mercies are new every morning and that He is always creating new opportunities for us to grow.
God is a God of second chances. So I encourage you to think about your regrets. Think about them and let them go.
That tree I mentioned earlier? It took a while, but it finally let go of its rotting fruit. If it had not, given enough time the rot from those fruits could have spread and corrupted the other branches, ultimately affecting the fruitfulness of the tree as a whole.
The rotting fruit of that tree never fulfilled its prime purpose, which was to serve as food for some person or creature. But once the tree let go of those decaying apples and they decomposed back into the earth, they became a part of the same soil the tree draws on for nutrients to bring about a new season and new fruit. In the same way, our regrets can be transformed into tools that motivate us to pursue what God has for us here and now. But we have to make peace with them. We have to let them go. Otherwise, they can hold us back from growing into the fullness of life that Jesus wants us to experience.
The weeds in our lives can be easier to identify, as well as the external storms and factors that hold us back from growth. Inwardly, it can be easy to determine how sin can hold us back. The impact of our regrets can be harder to notice because they can completely blind us to the fact that a whole new season is trying to come into being. We can bemoan how we missed what God had for us yesterday, and in doing so miss what He’s trying to grow in us right now.
Today, be encouraged: if you have regrets that are stunting your growth in certain areas of your life, ask Jesus to help you to let go of the could-have-beens, and step fully into the new season God is eager to bring about in your life.
May you continue to experience extraordinary in Him!