The Love of God, Regret and Clean Slates

By Tom Caylor,   At New Year’s, we often have regrets about the past year. Is that a good thing or bad? The standard to start with is God.
Can God have regret? Well if you believe in the inspiration and reliability of the Bible, then you should believe that God regrets. Genesis 6:5-8 states that “the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” and He said, “I am sorry that I have made them”. What is regret? To regret is to “feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity”. God regretted that He had made man. The Fall was a huge loss and missed opportunity, to say the least. And the subsequent increase in wickedness deepened the effects of that separation even more, to the point that there was apparently little or no hope of man ever turning back to God and having a relationship with Him, except for the case of Noah. In God’s omniscience of the hearts of men, God knew infinitely more than we can know about the possibilities for men’s hearts turning to Him. This is the realm of God’s sovereignty and grace, where our finite time-limited minds and power come to our limits of ability to understand the ins and outs of how that works. Because turning to God also involves our choice, our free will. And our free choice entails that there is a risk for God. And when we choose to turn away from Him, then and now, there is the loss of what could have been otherwise. And with that loss comes regret and grief and sorrow. God regrets, God grieves, and God has sorrow. What is the loss for God? It is a loss of relationship. It is not the quantity of relationship that matters to God. And God isn’t grieved because His master scheme to accomplish things isn’t working out. God isn’t a task master. He is a loving Father. God knit each of us in our mother’s womb to be unique, and has unique plans from before the foundations of the earth for each of us, plans for us to reflect His love back to Him and to others with our own part of the rainbow. With the loss of any relationship with even one person, God grieves over the loss of the two-way exchange of love, the loss of the working out of our salvation, the loss of the shining of the unique light of our star in the universe. It is something even at an emotional level for God, according to the Bible. Emotions are not sufficient to define and guide a person, and that includes God. But emotions are necessary, they are a part of what makes up a whole person, and the definition of a person comes from the person of God Himself. On our own, we can only pretend to start over. Many a New Year’s resolution turns out to be a hopeless process of starting again to try to succeed only to find that we aren’t really any better off than we were before. We are thinking that we have no choice but to be “on our own”: alone in our regret, alone in our grief and sorrow, and alone in starting over and living and loving. But the truth is we are not alone when we regret and grieve. We are in the company of God Himself. And that’s good news. God is the only one who is also capable of wiping the slate clean and giving us His life and love that we need to live and love. Before starting over, the missing step is letting God wipe the slate clean. He certainly showed His capability in this area with the flood. The slate needs to be wiped clean of all of our beliefs that God has left us alone or that we are better off on our own. The slate must be wiped clean of all attempts to live on our own. Through Jesus, God with us, of whom the angels proclaimed “good will toward men”, our slate is wiped clean and we have found “favor in the eyes of the Lord”. We can “walk with God” as Noah did, in humble belief that we desperately need and desire God who is love. So after all, it isn’t about the success of meeting that goal. Any goal or task is worth pursuing only if is part of a two-way communication-filled love relationship with God. Reprinted:

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