A man died and went to heaven. He was met at the pearly gates by Saint Peter who offered to show him the home God had prepared for him. The man's excitement grew as he and Saint Peter passed a street lined with beautiful mansions, but they did not stop. The man was still enthusiastic as he and Saint Peter walked by a street lined with smaller, but still lovely, houses. Once again, they did not stop. The man began to wonder just what type of home was waiting for him when Saint Peter stopped in front of an attractive, tiny house. "This is your home," Peter explained. Even though it was not a spectacular mansion or magnificent house, the man was thrilled. After all, the little house was in Heaven.
The man's excitement faded as he opened the front door of his heavenly home. Instead of beautifully furnished rooms, he saw stacks of unopened boxes. In fact, every room was filled with boxes stacked from the ceiling to the floor. When the man asked Saint Peter what was inside the boxes, Peter smiled sadly and said, "These are the gifts and blessings God had for you on earth." The very confused man responded, "Why didn't He send them to me?" Saint Peter smiled sadly and said, "Because you never asked."
That illustration, sent to me by a Christian author, was part of an article she had written. To be honest, I was bothered by it. For me, it's simply not an accurate illustration of what Heaven will be like. In Heaven there will be no regret, even though there's enough of it here on earth to last through eternity. Heaven is perfect. We will not enter through the pearly gates only to have Saint Peter tell us how we messed up our lives by denying ourselves the blessings God wanted us to have here on earth. Romans 8:1 makes it clear: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.." See that? No condemnation. None. Nada. Zilch. I don't know about you, but for me, that's a huge relief.
You might think my citation from Romans is misplaced. After all, didn't I say that the illustration was about regret and isn't the citation from Romans about condemnation? Of course, you are correct. But, think of it this way. If God filled Heaven with reminders of all those ways in which we fell short of His plans for us, would God not be condemning us to an eternity of regret?
Regret can be a healthy response to certain situations. We should feel regret when we fail to lead the sorts of lives that we know God has called us to lead. However, unhealthy regret can be destructive. In fact, unhealthy regret is one of Satan's biggest weapons. It tears us down, makes us feel dirty, and robs us of our faith and confidence in Christ Jesus.
Fortunately, God has a far greater weapon. It is called grace. Scripture says God's mercies are new every morning. Wow! God's mercies are never ending. We are not condemned to go through life with a scarlet letter "F" embedded on our foreheads, because we know that failed experiences do not equal failed humans.
If we want to live spiritually victorious lives, we need to have consciences that are free from the burden of the past so that we can be open to God's call in the present. What makes such a thing possible? For the Christian it is not a "what," it is a "who" -- Jesus the Christ.