Bennett Cerf –– one of the founders of the Random House publishing group, as well as longtime panelist on the 1950s to 1970s TV game show, “What’s My Line?” –– once told of a young lady who was truly “sorry” for breaking her engagement with the young man she was to marry.
“Susan” wrote: “Dear Tony: I have been unable to sleep ever since I broke off our engagement. Won’t you forget and forgive? Your absence leaves a void nobody else can ever fill. I love you, I love you, I love you. –– Your adoring Susan.” ~ She then added a postscript that read: “P.S. Congratulations on winning the Irish Sweepstakes!”
Although I never came close to marrying anyone with a lot of money, there are many things in life that I DO regret. I’m sure many other Christians feel the same way. I can say I have some regrets going back to when I was a youngster. Unfortunately, I made some bad childhood choices, and I paid for them all. My parents saw to it I was “sorry.”
I have no memory what I did as a child that upset my Mom one evening, but she suddenly had me trapped against the kitchen wall and was “setting me straight” on things. There I was cornered between the kitchen flue and the doorway leading to the dining room, while she was talking rather “firmly,” and her finger waving right in my face.
Her right index finger was moving rapidly upward and downward as she was speaking – AND it kept getting closer to my face. By the time her finger got within a couple of inches from my face, I felt like one held in a trance by a shining gold pocket watch swinging before their eyes.
Then I made a terrible mistake! As I watched Mom’s finger get even closer, I chose to cross my eyes and pucker my lips. All I’ll say is I was then reprimanded for THAT “wrong-doing,” and her added words of correction quickly took me out of the “trance” I was in.
A second “regret” came when I was about the same age of seven, and I was sitting on a white wooden kitchen chair at Mom’s Hoosier Cabinet, the old-time cabinet that sat in front of the kitchen flue. I had already helped myself to the cookie jar, so my thoughts were then turned to pouring a glass of milk –– ice cold milk in a one-half gallon glass bottle that had earlier been delivered to our front porch by our nearby Quality Dairy store.
This was before the days of food “safety,” as we know it today, so all that covered the top of the glass bottle was a thin cardboard tab that was removed easily. I pulled up on that tab to open the FULL bottle of milk. Then came the “bright” idea!
Without thinking of the consequences, I turned the milk bottle upside down ONTO the neck of the glass before me. I wanted to see how quickly I might fill the glass with milk, and then remove and upright the milk bottle. (Yes, I know it was a dumb idea!)
Mom happened to come into the kitchen at the right time. She heard the “glug – glug – glug” sound of the milk overflowing onto the porcelain top of her Hoosier cabinet. She grabbed the bottle quickly and turned it upright, all the while asking, “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, BILLY?” Although I never “cried over spilled milk” that day, I did say through fake tears, “I don’t know, Mother! I don’t know!” Needless to say, not much milk remained in the bottle, and rest assured I NEVER pulled such a stunt again.
A third regret was when I was eight, and my brother, Don, was seventeen. It was a Summer Saturday morning when he was taking me downtown to Tri-City Grocery to see a local cowboy star and his horse on the store parking lot. (Dad also worked at that store part-time.)
Before Don was to take me there, he made a stop at the First National Bank less than two blocks from our house. He drove our family’s brand NEW 1954 Oldsmobile “Rocket 88.” Unfortunately, he left the keys in the ignition. He was parked in front of the bank, with another car in front of our car, and still another car close behind. I had great plans while he was away from the car, or so I thought.
Once I saw Don enter the bank, I quickly slid over to the driver’s seat and turned the key. To my surprise, the car started. I turned it off and then played with the gearshift by moving it to different positions. I returned the lever to where Don left it, and then restarted the car. I repeated all this several times. After a few minutes, I happened to glance toward the large bank window. There I saw my brother heading for the front door, so I quickly slid back to the passenger side of the car, complete with an imaginary halo over my head.
Don got inside the car and turned the key to start the drive to Tri-City Grocery three blocks away, but the car would not start. He tried time and time again, and finally spoke of his wonder why the new car would not start. He then said we would need to walk home.
As we were getting out of the car, Don just HAD to ask “the” question: “Did you mess with the car while I was inside the bank?” I lied! (“Sorry, Lord!”) I answered, “NO,” but as quickly as I told that lie, I switched to saying, “Yes!” I knew I would be in trouble for disabling the car, but I would also be in trouble for telling a lie.
So, we walked home –– or should I say my brother walked the two blocks home. He was upset, to say the least, and he carried me upside down from that main street, down our alley, and finally to the back door of our house.
My great regret “ended” at home that day, with me being given my hardest spanking EVER. I still remember lying face down (the only position to be in at that time) across my bed, sobbing and crying for the longest time.
My “true regret” was being caught and spanked for my actions, but in later years, I realized I could have caused great damage to our car, or to other cars, or even injured someone. I thank God I never put the gearshift into drive or reverse while the engine was running. There were no “time-out” episodes in my day, and that particular spanking was one I totally deserved. To be honest, I deserved MORE spankings than I actually received.
Yes, I have even had other regrets since I became an adult. I’ve made some bad choices in trusting others, along with many other poor decisions too numerous to share. But there is a decision I made when I was eleven years old, and it is one I will NEVER regret. I went to the altar at my home church and gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ.
There is an excellent Gospel song in “the old Red Back book” Church Hymnal that speaks exactly how I feel today. “I’VE NEVER BEEN SORRY” –– written by Albert E. Brumley –– is found on page 114 of this hymnal.
Brumley began the first verse of this song to read: “Ever since Jesus saved and pardoned I have been singing ev’ry day, I’ve never been sorry (Praise the Lord), that I trusted His name (blessed holy name)…”
My Mother worked the family farm when she was young, and she was often heard yodeling upwards of 1.5 miles away –– from the fields where she worked, to the opened windows of neighboring farm houses. Mom loved yodeling.
But at the age of 16, and with no Christian training at home, Mom gave her heart and life to Jesus while plowing the fields. She suddenly gave up yodeling, started going to church and began singing for the Lord. Singing about the Lord then became her life, and she even turned down a professional job of singing on the radio in a large American city because her heart was set on singing for the Lord.
Vance Havner once said, “One sure mark of revival is, it sets people singing.” And singing for the Lord was what Mom loved to do after she was saved. I well remember the times coming home from school in the Spring or Fall in the 1950s, only to hear her beautiful Gospel singing voice be carried through opened windows of our house.
Brumley continued with the first verse of “I’VE NEVER BEEN SORRY,” by adding, “…Thru the dark shadows He is with me, leading me on the upward way, I’ve never been sorry (Praise the Lord), that I trusted His name (blessed holy name).”
We then remember Brumley’s powerful chorus of this song, as he wrote: “I’ve NEVER been sorry, that I trusted His name, Ev’ry moment I find Him, exactly the same, My soul has been singing, since the Savior came, I’ve never been sorry, that I trusted His name.”
Please forgive another reference to my Mom (Opal Lloyd), but a short time before she went to be with the Lord in 2009, I asked this precious saint of God if she had EVER been “sorry” she had given her heart to the Lord nearly 80 years prior.
Mom had always been determined to make it through all the way with Jesus, so it was NO surprise when she set her jaw firmly, and with that great determination in her eyes, she looked at me and said, “Honey, I’ve NEVER been sorry!”
After all, Mom’s soul had been “singing (ev’ry day), since the Savior came (since the Savior came), I’ve NEVER been sorry (praise the Lord), that I trusted His name.”
While I, a former “Dennis the Menace” figure, have many things from the past to regret, giving MY life to the Lord is not one of them. I can boldly say, like my Mom, “I’VE NEVER BEEN SORRY!” And now, I would ask you the same!