Tag Archives: memories

I Remember

I remember. I remember times I lied to my parents when I was a kid. I remember things I did in college I’m ashamed of. I remember the awful things I’ve done as an adult, things I’d rather not talk about. I am a sinner. And I remember.

But God doesn’t. When I confessed my sins He forgave and forgot them. He buried their memory in the deepest sea and promises never to remember them ever again. Ezekiel 20:42-44 says when we remember our ways, our doings which have defiled us, we will loathe ourselves because of the evil we’ve committed.

Then, he says, we’ll know God is the Lord when he deals with us, “not according to (our) wicked ways nor according to (our) corrupt doings.”

That’s Jesus for you. He paid for every one of the sins I’ve committed so I don’t have to. Hebrews 10 says He offered Himself as a sacrifice once and for all of us:

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

He goes on to say, “Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

I don’t deserve this. But I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love for the One who has lavished me with grace. I want only to bring joy to my Savior.

Because I remember.

December 15

Philemon, Philippians 1-2

Onesimus was a runaway slave and Paul was sending him back to his former master. After spending time with Paul, Onesimus had given his heart to the Lord. And Onesimus became like a son to Paul. Paul called him “my very heart”. I am sure Paul would much rather  the young man stay with him. But the fact of the matter was Onesimus wasn’t free to do that . Philemon owned him.

As I read this account this morning I was reminded of a terrible time in recent church history when Christians were pressured into standing before congregations and publicly confessing sin. Someone had taken a verse and started a movement that destroyed lives in the name of Jesus.

I was in such a service where a daughter-in-law “confessed” hatred for her husband’s mother. The older woman was a much loved member of the church family in which this service was held. It came as quite a shock to everyone, including the husband and the mother-in-law. The marriage ended in divorce. 

In a chapel service in college, a professor “confessed” an affair with a colleague. Many people were hurt by that one, too. As a result of that movement marriages, friendships, and churches were destroyed.

When we accept Christ as our Savior our sins are forgiven and God forgets we ever committed them. But we remember. In this life we often carry the consequences for our sins. Sometimes it is loss of relationships, sometimes guilt. Just because Onesimus was saved, it didn’t mean his slavery was voided. As hard as it was, he had to go back and confess to Philemon and ask for forgiveness.

The daughter-in-law I mentioned probably needed to confess her sin of hatred to her mother-in-law. But privately. And with the intention of letting go of the hate. The professor certainly needed to repent of his sin, too. But dropping that bombshell in the middle of 1,000 students and faculty (including the other person involved in the affair) was just wrong.

Friend, if you are living with hard feelings toward someone or the guilt from some past sin, ask God what he would have you do. He may want you to speak to the person you’ve wronged in order for them to see how Christ has changed you. But I guess I would caution you to check your motives and consider what your confession would do to the other person.

During this time of massive confessions I received a letter from someone I had gone to college with. In the two page letter was a list of reasons why this person (who I had considered a close friend) despised me – her words. At the end of her letter the confession went something like – “God has told me I’ll never have peace until I tell you how I feel. I hope now I’ll be able to sleep at night.”

I hope she slept well. I didn’t for quite some time. 

Just remember that if going to someone in order to ask for forgiveness is all about you, think again. Onesimus didn’t go back to Philemon so he could sleep at night. Onesimus went back for Philemon’s sake, not his. 

Dearest God, thank you for forgiving us and forgetting out past sins when we allow you to come into our lives. But, God we remember. And sometimes those memories are painful. Lord, if those memories are keeping us from a closer walk with you, if what we have done to someone may me keeping them back from enjoying a close relationship with you, then give us the courage to do the right thing. Give us the courage even if it means keeping quiet. Or if it means humbling ourselves before them. But may all we do have one purpose, and that is your will be done.

 

August 25

Jeremiah 30-31; Ezekiel 26

God is talking about making a new covenant with Israel. He tells them in the past they were punished for the sins of their parents and grandparents. “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”. One day, God says, if you eat sour grapes you will be the one who puckers up. Everyone will die for their own sin.

In the Old Testament, prophets were continually reminding generation after generation the many sins committed in the past. So it must have come as quite a shock when Jeremiah said God, in his new covenant, would forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.

We who live after the cross have a clearer picture of this new covenant. Jesus taught us about sin and repentance, responsibility and choice. And when he tells us he throws our sins into the deepest sea or removes them as far as the east is from the west, when he says he’ll remember them no more – he means it.

I know there are many who believe, because Scripture tells us we will be held accountable for our thoughts and actions on judgment day, there will be a big screen TV playing blue-ray videos of our lives for everyone to see. I know in my heart that won’t happen to me.

You know why? God tells me when I repent of sin he marks the account paid by the Blood of the Lamb. He tosses that sin into the sea and will remember it NO MORE.

So here’s what I see happening. I stand before the throne and look my Holy God in the eye. He says – give me an account of your life, Connie. And before I can utter a word, Jesus steps up beside me and says, “Account paid, Dad.”

Me, standing there remembering my sins, the times I failed God, dishonored him, threw his Word right in his face. Me, remembering the times I could have and should have done more to further his kingdom. God, opening his arms for me and welcoming me home dressed in Jesus’ righteousness.

So does that mean I can live my life any way I want and I’ll get a free pass? Not at all. Every sin I commit comes with a price tag. Every one. If I want Jesus to stand up for me in that day I need to be sure I’m wearing his righteousness. I need to repent, be holy and set apart, I need to be obedient to God’s Word. I need to recognize sin and accept the forgiveness that is mine when I ask him to forgive me.

I’m so thankful God forgives and forgets. But I don’t want to forget. While I’m on this earth I want to remember my failures so I don’t repeat them. I want to remind myself the lengths to which Jesus had to go to wash me clean. I want to live my life out of gratitude, humbly aware that I am a sinner saved by grace. 

Holy God, I know there will be an eternity free from the memories of the sins I’ve committed, compliments of a crucified Jesus. But until that day, Lord let me remember. Let me use those memories to make me want to serve you better, love you more, and run from the temptations that lure me into sin. And thank you, God, for your selective memory. I love you.

January 12

Job 27-29

Who was Job anyway? To hear him describe himself you would think he was the most popular, the most respected, the most loved man in town. Job lists his altruistic deeds and they are many. So are the praises from his neighbors.

Job naturally longs for the good old days. Back then he had it all… wealth, power, respect, his children, his health. The present is just too painful. My heart broke for him when I read, “Oh for the days when… my children were with me.” It makes me sad because I long for the days when Geoff was still with us, too.

I think God wants me to realize that if I allow myself to dwell on the past I miss out on the blessings of the present. Most of us at one time or another have probably been guilty of remembering the past a little rosier or a little worse than it actually was.

When I was a little girl there was a hill at the end of our dead end street that was perfect for sledding. We spent many happy hours on that giant hill and I remember not only the joy of flying down, but trudging back up the mountain over and over.

After high school I went off to college and hadn’t even seen the hill for years. One day I decided to take a walk up the street and was shocked to see that the hill had shrunk. It was nowhere close to being mountainous. Over the years I had created a long, steep grade in my mind. The reality was a more gentle slope. (It’s still a good place for kids to sled)

But isn’t that the way with memories? My dad used to long for the good old days when men were men and people were honest, when women didn’t dress like men and children obeyed their parents. Let’s be honest, though. Even the good old days had their share of problems.

Memories themselves can be precious treasures. And it’s good to take them out and polish them off sometimes. But if we choose to live in the past, whether the past was ideal or filled with pain, we can miss out on some pretty amazing things in the present.

God, when  you created us with the ability to remember you gave us a precious gift… and a curse. Thank you for a lifetime full of memories. May I put them in perspective and not allow them to take my eyes off what you have for me today. May my past not hold me back or steal the joy you want to share with me. Lord, I give you today. I thank you for yesterday. And I trust you with tomorrow.