With the COVID-19 pandemic still nipping at our heels, we’re all trying to bring normalcy back to our lives. We’ve just come off of Memorial Day weekend, a time when we pause to remember our loved ones who have passed away. How did you symbolize your time of remembrance? With flowers on a grave? With a traditional cookout (staying socially distant, of course)? By saying a prayer of thanks to God for your loved ones’ influence in your life?
It all requires some degree of remembering. We need to remember a lot of things nowadays just to survive in our ever-changing world. We try to remember to wear our masks in places that require them. We need to remember what time to be at work (and isn’t being at work again fantastic?). We need to remember our graduates, and how to honor them without infecting them. We try to remember birthdays and anniversaries. We gotta remember where we parked the car! And where did I put the car keys?
What about everything we learned in school? We’re supposed to remember all the history and grammar and literature that was supposed to be a vital part of our entire lives! Our teachers want us to remember the Alamo. They taught us to remember the Maine (wasn’t it a big ship?). And how can we forget the 1918 Flu pandemic? Hmmm. So many things we try to remember, but our brains just can’t hold all that information, especially older brains like mine!
There are plenty of things we want to remember: our families and friends. The births of our children. Our wedding day. Special times when we were growing up that make an impact on the rest of our lives. Memories of family members who we will not see again until we, too are ushered into God’s heavenly Throne Room.
But some things we don’t want to remember: your heart broken by your girlfriend; being hurt in a car accident; swiping candy as a 5-year-old; not keeping a promise to a best friend; having your favorite pet put to sleep. These can be very painful memories, and we don’t want to go there and go through it all over again.
God is the same way. There are some incidents we committed during our lives that he doesn’t want to remember, either. In the latter part of Jeremiah 31, we discover that God doesn’t want to remember our sins. They are too painful for him, because when we sin, we not only hurt ourselves, but we hurt God as well. This is where His power of forgiveness comes in. Jeremiah writes, “I will be their God, and they will be my people… I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.”
The Almighty, all-knowing, ever-present God chooses NOT to remember our sins! Forgiveness wipes them away. He can do that because Jesus sacrificed himself to pay for them – a steep price to pay, but our loving Lord did it so we could join Him in heaven spotless and clean. It’s a promise that He keeps.
So right now, stop and confess to God those things you may have regretted in your life. Lay them at his feet so you may never be plagued by them again, and every Memorial Day from now on will be bright and new. May we never forget the sacrifices of our soldiers and our loved ones who have influenced our lives forever. And may we never forget that our merciful Lord has written His word upon our very hearts so we might truly understand who we are and Whose we are forever! Amen!
The writer is the pastor at Sidney First Presbyterian Church.