If I Could Start Again

Have you ever considered your life and thought, “If I could start all over again, I would … “? I believe we all do that at some point or another, perhaps quite often. It is natural to allow retrospect to dictate what might have been if given the chance. Usually, we apply this thought to something unkind we may have said or did to someone, a bad decision we made, or the outcome of a certain direction in life. So, what if you could start again as a Christian? That may not be something we consider because it’s one of the better decisions we have made. Right? Typically, we shouldn’t have any regrets or desire for “do-overs” for when we committed our life to Christ. Yet, even becoming a Christian can be subject to hindsight scrutiny. Would you do anything differently? I would.

For starters, I would have gone to Bible school sooner. It’s easier to truly appreciate some things after you have experienced them. The decision to attend a Bible school was not easy for someone like me, who was married, involved in a lucrative career, and entering middle age. Yet, it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my entire life. It gave me the working knowledge I needed to find the answers to my questions (2 Peter 1:3). It opened my eyes to the power of God’s Word (Romans 1:16-17). It equipped me to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). It also provided numerous, wonderful contacts, and friendships that have been such a blessing over the years. Yet, I allowed seven years to pass before I made that crucial decision to attend.

I would encourage any Christian (new or old) to get as much Bible knowledge as you can, first thing, even attend a Bible school. There is a reason why Hosea wrote, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). It is because the Bible is the most important teaching we should seek out.

Secondly, I would have entered ministry sooner. After I was baptized as an adult (I had fallen away from the church in my youth), I started finding ways to serve more in the church. I discovered that being around Christians and serving was the best method for holding me accountable to God. As I grew, I began to be invited to teach and preach. I had been asked earlier but always declined for some reason. One brother eventually encouraged me to start.

Since then, I have learned so much more about compassion, grace, mercy, and forgiveness than I ever could have outside of ministry. I have also seen the power of God’s Word in changing lives and witnessed very specific prayers being answered (Matthew 7:7; 2 Timothy 3:16). I can’t imagine my life without being in ministry, I wish I had started sooner. I encourage every Christian to find a ministry and serve: a food pantry, prison ministry, nursing home visitation, grief support and care, building and grounds, fellowship, or something within your personal strength.

Thirdly, I would have become a missionary sooner. It only took one mission trip for me to recognize “my calling” (that is, what I truly needed to be doing for the Lord), and that was serving as a missionary. That decision provided many opportunities to preach and teach the Gospel in countries I would have never gone to, otherwise. The impact it has had on my Christian worldview is priceless (Gal 3:28). I thank God He allowed me to do that work.

Looking back, I wish I would have started sooner. There was no reason I couldn’t have gone on a short-term mission trip earlier; there indeed were opportunities. Had I entered the mission field sooner, perhaps I may have accomplished far more work for the Lord’s kingdom than I did. So, if you are a new Christian and able, I strongly encourage you to go on an evangelistic, foreign mission trip. It can be life-changing in how you view the world!

Did you happen to notice a pattern in my list here? It is the recurrence of the word, “sooner.” That’s the real lesson, “Do it sooner, rather than later.” We are not promised tomorrow James 4:14). Yet, despite my tardiness, there is one thing I now know with certainty: everything happens on God’s timing. We can’t change the past. We can only learn from it. Looking back, I’m thankful God was longsuffering with me and I get to serve Him.