In his book, In the Eye of the Storm, Max Lucado tells the story of the famous Winchester house in San Jose.
Sarah Winchester, heiress of the Winchester Rifle fortune, was rich, well known, powerful, and miserable. Her only daughter had died at five weeks of age. Then her husband had passed away. She was left alone with her name, her money, her memories,…and her guilt. Her yesterdays imprisoned her todays, and she yearned for freedom.
She bought an eight-room farmhouse plus one hundred sixty adjoining acres. She hired sixteen carpenters and put them to work. For the next thirty-eight years, craftsmen labored every day, twenty-four hours a day, to build a mansion.
The design had a macabre touch. Each window was to have thirteen panes, each wall thirteen panels, each closet thirteen hooks, and each chandelier thirteen globes. Corridors snaked randomly, some leading nowhere. One door opened to a blank wall, another to a fifty-foot drop. One set of stairs led to a ceiling that had no door. Trap doors. Secret passageways. Tunnels. This was no retirement home for Sarah’s future; it was a castle for her past.
When Sarah died, her estate sprawled over six acres and had six kitchens, thirteen bathrooms, forty stairways, forty-seven fireplaces, fifty-two skylights, four hundred sixty-seven doors, ten thousand windows, one hundred sixty rooms, and a bell tower.
Though Sarah lived alone, legend has it that every evening at midnight, a servant would ring the bell…to summon the spirits. Sarah would then enter the “blue room,” a room reserved for her and her nocturnal guests. Together they would linger until 2:00 a.m., when the bell would be rung again. Sarah would return to her quarters; the ghosts would return to their graves.
Who comprised this legion of phantoms?
Indians and soldiers killed on the U.S. frontier. They had all been killed by bullets from the most popular rifle in America the Winchester. What had brought millions of dollars to Sarah Winchester had brought death to them.
So she spent her remaining years in a castle of regret, providing a home for the dead.
Sarah Winchester lived a life imprisoned by guilt and regret. They may not be eccentric or live as lavishly as Sarah, but daily, we are surrounded by people who are haunted by failure and plagued by pitfalls.
Many of times we come into contact with people who want to share stories of “what could have been”, or “what they should have done”, or “wish would have happened”. These people have reached a stage late in life, and looking back, are full of regret.
The Apostle Paul wrote of a “worldly sorrow” that “brings death.” A guilt that kills. A sorrow that’s fatal. A venomous regret that’s deadly.
How can we live a life full of joy and passion, and free of regrets? There are three principles from scripture that, if followed, will lead to a ‘no regrets’ lifestyle.
Meet God early.
Ecclesiastes 12:1, “So remember your Creator in the days of your youth: Before the days of adversity come, and the years approach when you will say, “I have no delight in them”.
2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.”
Play by the rules.
Matthew 7:12, “Whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them.” (the Golden rule)
1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Ephesians 5:25,33, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her…each one of you is to love his wife as himself…”
Proverbs 13:22, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren…”