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It’s time to forget

God doesn’t remember any of our failures. Neither should we.

I rest my hand lightly on my wife’s because it hurts her too much when I hold it. From her lift chair, she looks at me through sunken eyes and forces a smile. She whispers, “I want to grow old with you.” I return her smile as warmly as I can. I pat her hand and whisper, “Me too.” But only days later, she is home in heaven.

That was more than four years ago. Yet that memory came crashing back. Why? Keep reading.

A few weeks ago, I rushed to the hospital because a member in intensive care has been asking for me. When I arrived, his nurse told me, “I’ve never seen him like this. He ordered everyone else out of the room—staff, even family. It’s his pastor, and only his pastor, whom he wants.” I peeked through the glass into the room, wondering if it was safe. Inside, a nurse helped my friend into a recliner beside the bed.

Then I entered, pulled up a chair, and sat. My brother in Christ forced a smile past the pain shooting through him. He thanked me for coming.

We visited for a moment, until it all came crashing out. Wave after wave. Heartache. Anger. Guilt. Regret. How he couldn’t take it anymore! How badly he treated the nurses and his family. How he just wanted to be all alone. “I don’t know what came over me!”

I do. My dear friend buckled under the relentless pressure of a long-term chronic illness. And his sin haunted him.

What did I tell him? The same thing he told me so often in Bible class or home visits. First, I shared this verse. “I, yes I, am he. I blot out your rebellious deeds for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). Then I repeated the same explanation we had talked about so many times before.

“Sometimes a sin comes crashing into our conscience and knocks us to our knees. Satan uses the memory to drown us in guilt and despair. Helpless, hopeless, we cry out to our heavenly Father. ‘How could I hurt you and others like this? How could I fail so completely? Have mercy on me!’

“Our Father’s response? ‘You say a sin is bothering you? I don’t remember any. Let me double-check your record. No, I don’t see so much as a single blemish. How can I? I’ve cast all your sins into the depths of the sea and as far away as the east is from the west (cf. Micah 7:19; Psalm 103:12). I’ve blotted out every last one of your failures—fully, totally, completely—in the blood of my son (John 19:30). Now, my child, it’s time for you to forget.’ ”

My dear friend listened. A twinkle came back into his eye. Relief was written all over his face. We visited a few minutes more. We prayed. Then I left so he could eat his supper and rest. That’s the last time the two of us talked. Just a few days later he was home in heaven.

It’s two weeks later as I write this. I remember my friend—his pain, his fear, and his guilt. And I remember my pain and guilt at what happened over four years ago. But my comfort is this: My Father doesn’t remember my friend’s guilt or mine. He doesn’t remember yours either.

The Scripture references used in this article are from the Evangelical Heritage Version.

Author: Glenn L. Schwanke
Volume 109, Number 06
Issue: June 2022

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