Well, it’s February. January has come and gone. Nobody has asked about your one word in weeks, it’s possible to find a parking spot at the gym, and on the rare occasion you are required to write the date, your hand automatically draws a nine.
We are fully into the new year now, and yet some of us are still living in the past.
We’re not even surprised when we break our resolutions, again. Or we didn’t bother making resolutions or setting goals in the first place because why bother? We look at the hard situation we’re facing and think it will never be over, or we wonder if we’ll ever be out of the woods. Some of us even find ourselves questioning the good things that are happening. Surely, it was meant for someone else. Or maybe it’s not even real. Because we know we don’t deserve this.
A couple months ago, I watched the two-hour finale to a TV show called Timeless. The show was about a team of scientists, soldiers, and historians using a time machine to stop bad guys from changing history. (Yes, I realize that sounds silly. It was, but I loved the show anyway.) One of the characters spent much of the finale struggling with guilt over his actions in an alternate timeline. As he whined — I mean, lamented — to one of the characters he’d hurt with his actions, she lost her patience. She said, “Why are you beating yourself up over a history that only you and I remember?”
As I watched the last few minutes of this short-lived show, I gasped and grinned and, unsurprisingly, shed a few tears. As TV finales go, it was just about perfect. But as much as I was entertained and delighted by the show, what kept ringing in my ears as the credits rolled were those words:
“Why are you beating yourself up over a history that only you and I remember?”
I started wondering if maybe that’s what Jesus is saying to me every time I dwell on the past, forgetting that I’ve been forgiven and remembering every one of my mistakes, my bad decisions, my sins. Even He doesn’t remember those things. Psalm 103 says He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west, and Jeremiah 31 says God promises to forgive our sin and never remember it. No, we can’t change our past, but God will forgive it. No time machine or alternate timeline required.
So why are we sometimes so determined to remember every misstep we’ve ever taken? Why do we bring to mind the ugly things we’ve said, the regrettable way we’ve behaved, the times we let others — and ourselves — down? Why do we hit “play” on that record, over and over again, until every detail is ingrained in our minds where they can’t be ignored or forgotten?
In Timeless, the two main characters were literally the only people who remembered what had happened and how much it had hurt. In our own lives, reality isn’t so kind. But even when forgiveness has been offered and time has begun healing wounds, we tend to hold onto the memory of our mistakes anyway — as if keeping the memories alive is some kind of atonement, rather than abuse. As if accepting forgiveness somehow diminishes our grief and regret. As if we cannot accept forgiveness until we have punished ourselves sufficiently.
Except . . . Jesus.
The One who deliberately does not recall our sins once He’s forgiven them? He’s the same One who took every bit of punishment we deserve. And He did it so we don’t have to. He looked at our dirty, tear-stained faces full of regret or defiance, shame or arrogance, and He loved us anyway. When we asked, He forgave us. And then He washed us clean, white as snow.
So, here we are. Both feet standing in a new year, and we have a choice. Do we move forward into whatever this calendar year has for us, into whatever God has planned for us? Or do we keep looking back at last year, circling back to our mistakes, playing the tape of our failures and our faults over and over again?
Let’s move forward, friends. Let’s trust that when Jesus said, “It is finished,” He really meant it! Let’s believe that He no longer brings to mind our mistakes, that He’s removed our sin and washed us clean. Let’s quit beating ourselves up for a past that only we remember.
We don’t even need a time machine to do it. We simply need to accept Christ’s forgiveness and step forward into our future.
No, we can't change our past, but God will forgive it. -@marycarver: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I am famous for beating myself up over things I’ve done wrong. Long after Jesus has forgiven the sin, I can still be giving myself a good thrashing with condemning words. It dawned on me, that what I was doing was not giving myself what I deserved….it was pride. Pride? Yes, good old nasty pride that says what Christ did for me on the cross so that my sins would be forgiven wasn’t enough. I still have to do something MORE than what Christ did and beat myself up. When I think of it that way, it stops me in my tracks. If Christ suffered and died for what I did wrong, then just who do I think I am that I need to do more? If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 emphasis mine). That just about says it all. As Jesus told the woman at the well….you are forgiven; go and sin no more. Awesome reminder Mary!
Gail Hinson says
Wow! Never thought of it that way.
I often wonder why I don’t remember a lot about my childhood, but I seem to remember all the bad things I did.
Michele Morin says
“When Jesus said, ‘It is finished,’ He really meant it!”
Moving forward, by grace!
Joyce Jordan says
An awesome word to live by.
Pearl Allard says
How appropriate that it’s the timeless One who remembers our sins no more. Love that line from the show you shared and the corresponding truth. Thank you, Mary.
We need this reminder daily in a world where many Christians spend more time pointing out the sins of others instead of forgiving them and leading them back into the arms of Christ.
Thank you so much for this much needed reminder post! I saw a t-shirt from a Cuban blogger who designed it which says “Palante y con fe” – Move forward and with faith.
Patricia Raybon says
Wow, Mary Carver! You took us to church! Thank you SO much for this post. It’s speaking loud and clear. Forgetting what is behind, move forward in Him. That says it all. Inspiring and encouraging. Blessings for sharing such a beautiful challenge. Onward! Much love, Paticia
Melody Luedke says
I praise our dear Lord and Savior that He forgives our sins and never looks on them again. We, however, are human and in our humanness we remember those sins, which is actually a good thing. As Paul has stated “My sins are ever before me” – as humans, I feel this is necessary. It is our history – history we would just as soon forget because it convicts us and it is good to remember them, lest we do forget and then commit them again and again because of our human sinfulness. We can forgive ourselves and know that we are forgiven and set free from those sins by our forgiving Father in Heaven, but our sins are ever before us because we are sinful human beings and they show us our need for our Savior. Yes, we should rejoice in His
forgiving Grace and remember that He is the one that forgives and washes us clean so that our sins do not count against us. As “sinful” humans, we remember those sins, which reminds us of our Loving God and Savior and our need for Him. I Praise God that He does not remember those past sins that He has forgiven me and washed me clean.
Deborah Croxton says
Thank you so much Mary. It seems I do this often.
Forward is my one word for 2019. This was right on time! I want to step forward into my future. Thank you so much!
Beth Williams says
Often times when discouraged I remember all the “mistakes & failures” I made. I used to replay them over in my mind. “Why did you do that or take this route? I end up beating myself up for those. God isn’t worried about the routes I took. He knew well in advance what I would do & when. I had been doing that a lot lately. Lamenting my turn of events & roads taken. Then God stepped in & made it better. After losing a job this year. God stepped in & gave me an even better job – more pay & stability. I can see clearly now that God was molding me for this position. He was using my past to build me up for this great future. Now He’s telling me not to worry or think about my past. Let it be. It is washed away. If God can forgive David for adultery, murder & still call Him a man after God’s own Heart – then He can forgive me for anything I could do.
Theresa Boedeker says
Such a great reminder, Mary. We need to quit thinking about our past and focusing on it when it has already been forgiven.