We were on a reservation basketball court. Our On Eagles’ Wings team of young Native Americans were there to share the hope they had found with their generation. Teresa would be the main speaker that night. The one carrying the heavy backpack around all night. She set it down when she spoke. And started pulling out . . . rocks. She said, “You know, a lot of us spend our life carrying around an invisible load like this. A backpack full of rocks from our past – rocks we don’t have to be carrying any more.”

I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Your Backpack…Unpacked!”

I know what a lot of those rocks might be labeled. “Regrets.” The things we wish we hadn’t done – maybe thought we’d never do. The things we wish we had done – and now it’s too late.

I’ll tell you one time when the weight of those rocks of regret get a lot heavier. When someone you love dies. Regrets are part of the sting of grief. Because grief surfaces the way we failed – or we think we failed – the one we love.

Two weeks after my Karen went to heaven, I wrote: “Lord, never far away are my regrets for the times I disappointed Karen. That I spoke harshly. That she just waited to talk with me when I work, work, worked.” I know there were many times I put a smile on her face. It’s the other times that add more weight to the grief. Regrets are heavy rocks.

I’ve discovered there are three ways to deal with life’s regrets. The first is to confess them. To God. I had to dump my whole ugly backpack at Jesus’ feet. Because He promised this in Acts 3:19, our word for today from the Word of God: “Repent…and turn to God that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

The liberating news from Jesus is that, when He was dying on that awful cross, He was paying for every sin, every shortcoming of my life and yours. Including those that live in our memory as guilty regrets. Something powerful happens, my friend, when you apply what Jesus did on that cross to all the things you should or should not have done. That freedom and forgiveness becomes available to you the day you put all your trust in Jesus to be your Savior from your sin. Then it’s a matter of learning to forgive what a perfect God has now forgiven. And leaving your backpack at the cross.

But there are two other keys to dealing with regrets. The first is to confess them. The second is to calculate them. Before you make a “feel good now” choice that you’re going to regret for a long time later. That’s why there’s so much wisdom in the challenge Jesus gave us about how to make “no regrets” decisions. In Luke 14:28, He says, “First sit down and estimate the cost.”

Oh, it looks good right now. But what’s it going to cost you in your reputation, your family, in people’s trust, in relationships, in your self-esteem, in your closeness to God, your collateral damage? The bill will last longer than the thrill. The time to think about the rocks of regret is before they happen!

Confess your regrets. Calculate the regrets. And confront the regrets.

As a man who suddenly lost the love of his life in a single day, let me ask you this question. If this turned out to be the last day on earth for that loved one, that friend, what would your regrets be? What would you wish you had done? Or hadn’t done? Well, thank God, they’re still here. You can still make it right. Do it – while you can.

And if you’ve never brought your lifetime backpack of guilt and regrets to Jesus – never invited Him to be your Savior from all those sins – do that today. There’s a lot more on our website about that, that will help you confirm that relationship with Jesus Christ. The website’s ANewStory.com. It could be the beginning of your new story.

You’ve carried those sins long enough, those regrets. Jesus is waiting to take that backpack. See, He already carried what’s in it to His cross.