Remembering. Forgetting.

Remembering. God gives to us many and great blessings. Some of these blessings are so common that we never think about them in terms of being a blessing. One such blessing is our memory and the action of remembering. We remember events that have impacted our life from the distant past, as well as the trivialities of yesterday. Some of my earliest memories are centered around the family funerals which obviously impacted my life greatly. Some people remember the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Some people remember the end of the Viet Nam War on April 30, 1975. But most of us remember the horrendous events of September 11, 2001 when terrorists crashed two passenger airliners into the Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan, New York City. When we remember these big events we often remember where we were and what we were doing. On that horrific 9/11 I was attending the Men’s Bible Breakfast at the Around the Corner Café in downtown Edmond. At that time they had a television by the cash register. And as I was leaving the breaking news and film footage started playing. What a terrible accident, I thought. And then came the second plane taking aim at the second tower. We knew that our American life had changed. But thanks be to God, there are many good memories that flood our minds as well: weddings, births, baptisms, confirmations, graduations, etc. These memories are special blessings from God to encourage us in life and bolster our faith as we keep in step with the Spirit.

Forgetting. We take memory for granted until we are confronted with a loved one whose memory is slipping or has slipped away. We label them with some stage of dementia or Alzheimer’s. The label doesn’t lighten the loss for us. Since memory is a personal history book, when memory is taken away it is somewhat like closing that personal history book of an individual. One woman explained very colorfully her view of her father’s growing dementia: it’s like his head is a rotating block of Swiss cheese – some days it’s pretty solid, and other days it’s all holes. No matter how we view it, it is a sad excursion for a family. However, there is a time when “forgetting” is a good blessing. It is when God chooses to graciously “forget” our sins. His promise given by the prophet Jeremiah is embraced in a new covenant made by God for His people: “This is the covenant I will make …” declares the LORD. “I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor or a man his brother, saying ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34). As children of God through grace in Christ Jesus, our loving God promises to be forgetful when it comes to our sins. Through the redeeming work of Christ, God has chosen to remember our sins no more… he has promised to forgive those sins and be forgetful of them. We are challenged to follow the same pattern in our relationships with others. When we are wronged, when we are sinned against, the Holy Spirit empowers us to forgive the wrongs and forget them. After all, if we internalize the anger and hurt, it only hurts us as it eats away like a cancer in our soul. Your sins are forgiven. Your sins are forgotten. Now, do the same toward others.

With Joy in Jesus, Pastor Barrie Henke