This section is from the very first draft of this book that I wrote back in 2006. It didn’t even make it to the second draft, but I still love it and wanted to share it with you:
Even though the Lord had given me a testimony of grace, and even though I had started to learn bits and pieces of lessons from my relationship, for a long time I still wished I could undo it. If only I could go back in time and erase all my sin and bad decisions! But sadly, the painting of our life is not electronic, and there is no “undo” button like there is on the computer program “Paint.” (Or perhaps that’s not such a bad thing…)
The Lord has had to work with me through so much pain and so many regrets. It hurt to face those things, and at first I would have much rather buried and ignored them… Thankfully we don’t have to face our regrets alone, because then they would be overwhelming. Instead, with His tender arm around our shoulders, we must together look at those regrets and work through them. We need to give them to God and let Him restore us and clothe us in white.
With that being said, I also am not going to lie and say that I do have regrets. (I know, I can hardly believe I can honestly say that.) …I do not feel that I have a life marred by regrets.
His steady hands smoothed the paint miraculously across the canvas. I couldn’t help standing in awe. I had never seen anyone paint anything so lovely! Somehow I knew the portrait was a picture of my life… and I was blown away at its beauty in the eyes of the Painter. He was ever so pleased with me.
As I sat in silent awe, I saw another lovely shimmering from the corner of my eye. I only allowed myself a quick glance for the time being, but the beauty I thought I saw was intoxicating. My head started to turn, slowly at first, and then more quickly. I gaped at the sparkling mirage I saw just outside the window. Forgetting all else, ignoring the Painter’s saddened gaze, I hastily jumped up and ran over toward the window. In my hurry, I accidentally splashed a tray of cheap, puke-yellow paint all over the canvas. At first I didn’t even notice. I just wanted to see this lovely mirage… But when I arrived at the window, after smashing through several more trays of paint, the mirage had disappeared. There was nothing there. The beauty didn’t last. It withered like the grass and faded like the flower.
Turning around, I stared in horror, tears in my eyes. I backed away, afraid of the fury of the Painter. Afraid that He could never restore the canvas to its fullest potential. Afraid that I had ruined His masterpiece. I closed my eyes tightly and retreated into a dark corner, so I couldn’t see what I had done to ruin the painting. As long as I was hiding, somehow it didn’t seem real.
But the Master Painter, undaunted and not at all distressed, moved softly toward me. I blinked my eyes open, afraid He was cornering me. I must have looked like a terrified animal, ready to run at any moment. But what I saw in His eyes captivated me. With a gentle, tender smile on His face and tears in His eyes, He showed me His hands. There were scars on His palms… scars that spoke to my heart of undying love, always ready to forgive.
He put an arm around my shoulder and pulled me out of the corner where I was cowering. I was forgiven. He wasn’t angry. He loved me. But then I saw the painting. It was completely smeared with paint. Ugly. Misshapen. Horrendous. I had done this. It was all my fault. So many regrets…
As though from a natural reflex, I quickly shut my eyes. Then I heard the still, small voice of the Painter… so calming and tender, and yet strong enough to calm the storm within me. He asked me to open my eyes and watch. It hurt. I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to see that yellow paint splattered all over the beautiful masterpiece. But somehow feeling His arm around my shoulder gave me the strength to open my eyes and watch. He looked down and picked up the brush laying on the table. Wait… could it be? He was picking up where He had left off? I remembered the last glance I had of Him, before I dashed across the room and overturning every tray of paint. He had been moving over to pick up this very brush!
Had He…? No, impossible. He couldn’t have known. It was impulsive and stupid. There was no way… And then I caught His eye. He was smiling, as though laughing at me! No, rather, it was as though He was saying, “Do you trust Me?”
He didn’t paint over the puke-yellow paint. No, He painted around it, above it, below it, and somehow incorporated those splotches as such an integral part of the painting, that I suddenly realized in amazement that the masterpiece would never have been complete without those splotches. So He had known all along. Somehow He had seen beyond the limitations of time that this would happen. Somehow He had it all under control. Somehow this didn’t phase Him at all.
He looked at me and winked as He continued painting the portrait of my life, even more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.
Even so, the Lord has taken my shortcomings and failures, my regrets and sorrows, and somehow created from them something surprisingly beautiful. They have become such an integral part of my life, my testimony, and my story, that I would never go back and undo them if I could.
I love Song of Songs 8:5. A relative says, “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I awakened you under the apple tree. There your mother brought you forth; there she who bore you brought you forth.”
This relative watched the Shulamite’s birth. This relative knew the Shulamite her whole life. But when she came up out of the wilderness, the Shulamite was leaning in absolute dependency on her Beloved. And she was so beautiful that she was unrecognizable.
Even so, when we come up out of the wilderness of our brokenness and regrets, we lean on Him, because we know our weakness and His strength. There is something breathtakingly beautiful about us, because when we surrender our regrets and sorrows, His strength comes into our lives in a very real way. “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning,” Psalm 30:5.
I do not have a life marred by regrets. I have made mistakes, but they are washed away in the blood of Christ. I have a past, but He has taken all my broken shortcomings and miraculously created something beautiful from them. I see the portrait of my life and once again stand in awe at the skill of the Painter.
Somehow He knew all along the ways in which I would fall… and yet He chose to love me anyway. He has loved me endlessly. Before, during, and after my sin. Forever. He’s not worried, so why should I be? He doesn’t see a life marred by regrets and smeared paint. No, rather, He’s winking at me even now. It’s like He knows something I don’t know. He just wants me to trust Him. Truly, His grace is sufficient.
“Wind of Forgetfulness”
Why is it so hard to start over again/Why can’t I just let go/Why can’t I erase the past and my regrets/Why won’t my heart forget//And let the wind carry it away/On the wind of forgetfulness/Like the dawn when it’s too dark to see the memories/And all you see is a brand new day/And the wind of forgetfulness