As a child, I used to love to play with a toy called "Etch-A-Sketch." In those days, before video games, computers, and all of the electronic gadgets we have today, the Etch-A-Sketch was pretty amazing. You could rotate the small white knobs clockwise and create a series of straight lines and create almost any picture you could imagine. If you were really skilled, you would learn how to rotate the left and right knobs simultaneously which would create a diagonal line. I never advanced much past a square or straight line, but I witnessed many folks who were true artists. The truly amazing thing about the Etch-A-Sketch was that if you didn't like your picture or artwork, you just simply shook the Etch-A-Sketch back and forth and the screen would magically erase. You then had a blank slate in order to begin another drawing. You didn't need paper; you didn't need erasers. All you needed was a little creativity and Etch-A-Sketch handled everything else. No matter how bad my artwork was, once I shook the Etch-A-Sketch, the drawing was erased never to be seen again. It was as if my artwork had never occurred at all. I can remember sitting and drawing for hours upon hours trying to get the perfect picture but becoming so frustrated. Finally, I would get so frustrated, I would ask my Mom or Dad to take the Etch-A-Sketch from me and I would watch in amazement as they began to create a Masterpiece that was beyond description. How they created such a wonderful picture was baffling to me but it made me want to always step aside and let them take control.
I think back over my life and remember time and time again when I made decisions I've regretted. We all have. There's not a person alive who has not done something or said something they wished they hadn't said, or had something happen to them or done something to someone they wished had not happened. Unfortunately, its so easy to beat ourselves up over and over again or second guess ourselves over what should or should not have been. In fact, it can get to the point where all we think about is what "was" and not what "can be." We look at poor decisions we've made in the past and continue to remind ourselves what could have been had we only made the "right" decision. We look at those who may have hurt us in the past and continue to carry those feelings of hurt and even revenge as we wonder "why me?" We look at those we may have hurt and wish we had a "second chance" to make things right. We look at relationships with parents and family and think how much better things could have been. We look at our jobs and careers and think it's just not fair what's happened to me. On and on we go with never-ending questions of woulda, shoulda, coulda to the point that our thoughts take our life down a path of never-ending self-doubt, pity, and depression. It doesn't have to be this way.
As Christians, we can choose to make positive changes and stop walking down the paths of self-doubt, pity, and depression. We only need to remind ourselves that our past mistakes and past decisions and past actions don't have to continually imprison us. There is no mistake you've ever made; no sin you've ever committed; no hurt you've ever received from others, that God can't erase, heal, and change. How do we do this?
- Ask Christ to heal your heart of the hurt; the pain; the regrests; the jealousy; the pride; and the bad feelings from your past. It is as simple as asking, accepting, and believing. At that exact instant, your slate has been cleared in God's eyes. Just like the Etch-A-Sketch, your past mistakes have been removed forever in God's eyes.
- Allow Christ to guide your life. I know from experience that the more I try to do in my own power, the worse things become. Once I get out of the way and allow God to control my life, things begin to improve. Just like with the Etch-A-Sketch, I've got to surrender control to the Master and let him create the masterpiece and direct my path.
- Act on how God directs your life. It's one thing to simply know what you believe God is directing you to do. It's an entirely different step to actually take action in the direction you need to go. Sometimes fear paralyzes us. Sometimes we just aren't sure which path to take. Sometimes we did make a bad decision and now God is correcting us. The important thing is that you listen and allow God to direct your path.
Rather than continuing to draw your own path, allow the Master to take control of your life and create the masterpiece He has designed for you.