I was reminded of this piece I wrote in May of 2014 by today’s text in my Portals of Prayer devotions:
25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins. 26 Put Me in remembrance; Let us contend together; State your case, that you may be acquitted Isaiah 43
How clean is your Memory Warehouse? And who keeps messing it up?
“You forgot about the Memory Warehouse?!?” Jonesy, Dreamcatcher
My childhood is filled with memories of my grandmother’s house. She lived directly across the street from us, and my sisters and I spent huge amounts of time there. Aside from the love from her and all of the things we did together, the coolest features were the two attics. Well, actually there was just one, but I count the basement as an attic. Both were chock full of STUFF!!
The basement boasted an old, hand-cranked Victrola and old records. There were even the old wooden needles for the arm. The rest was just random junk that should have been thrown out. Except to little kids in a time with only 3 TV stations and rabbit ears. That junk was pure treasure in the hands and minds of little kids! My buddy and I made a submarine. My sister made a playhouse that covered almost a fourth of the basement. My sub was positioned to “torpedo” her and her friends.
The attic! There was a door that opened to a full staircase that went up to the back wall of the peak of the roof. Ninety degrees left and a few more stairs to the top. JACKPOT! Eminently safe for little kids to reach and more stuff than could be cataloged in a lifetime…or so it seemed.
There were parts of the attic that I thought were beyond investigating, so much stuff was piled into corners and the deepest parts where the roof met the floor. I sometimes wondered what treasures – or terrors – existed there. Priceless jewels or maybe a cursed box.
Pandora’s Box! You open it up almost against your will. Physical monsters and smoky horrors come rampaging out. They won’t go back, and they wreak havoc from one end of your world to the other.
Did I hope to find one or become terrified I might?
Our brains are our attics. They’re on top, sure enough. They are jam-packed with the memories of our lives. Some are carefully preserved and delicately, fondly brought out on occasion. Others are completely misplaced until a friend sees one in a corner. He shakes the cobwebs off and asks, “Remember this?”
What is the status of your “Memory Warehouse?” Some memory files are useful Some are discarded to make room for more useful (goodbye, sophomore geometry!). Sometimes, you hear the faint sound of drums. Once you realize what you’re hearing, there’s no going back. The Jumanji game starts, whether you want it to or not. All of the gremlins from your most embarrassing and shameful moments EVER come spilling out and careen about between your ears for the foreseeable future.
You find yourself crushed, maybe even grimacing as one self-imposed horror after another slams itself around inside your skull.
Can I ever forgive myself?
That’s a big thing, isn’t it? Forgiving oneself. It’s some self-actualization thing. If only we can learn to forgive ourselves, we’ll reach a place of peace within ourselves and with others. Deep cleansing breath. Yes – I can make myself feel better.
We most certainly do NOT need to learn to forgive ourselves! What we do need is to learn to accept God’s forgiveness and believe that it’s over. Really over. Why? ‘Cause God SAYS IT IS!
“For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Jeremiah 31:34
As my pastor said in bible class recently, when we allow those sins to rampage across our consciousness and go back to God asking forgiveness AGAIN, His response is likely something like, “Why do you keep bringing that up? I already forgot about that one. Let it go!”
“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12
Think! If God says He forgot about it, why in any sane world would you want to remind HIM OF ALL PEOPLE about it?!?
It’s about faith. It always is, isn’t it? Do we really believe God forgives and forgets? And let’s think about the standard we set: “I can’t forget about it. How can God?” Like we’re the yardstick against which God is measured. Laughable. First Commandment dangerous.
God looks at His Memory Warehouse, sighs, shakes His head at the mess, and yells, “SON!”
Waving a hand dismissively across the landscape of His universe, “Would you just…”
“Just don’t toss out my good stuff.”
So Jesus takes His cross and sweeps the place clean, stacks all the boxes marked “Love for (Name),” and calls it a day. Dad comes back, surveys His cleaned up Memory Warehouse and smiles. All the junk is gone. Love alone is left.
What do we do? We make copies of our own “Bad Stuff I Did” files, take a run by God’s place, and toss it all through a slot in the door. With a note that says “Sorry. Again.”
Better idea. Call out to Jesus, invite Him in to clean house like He did at his Father’s place. I mean really let Him clean it out. No crying when He tosses our favorite sins, no hoarding of the detritus of our lives.
Don’t forgive yourself. You can’t do it. Have faith that God has, that Jesus will clean out your Memory Warehouse along with His. He’ll make it look like His; clean, sparkling, and filled with love. Believe. Experience the joy of forgiveness, a Memory Warehouse that has forgotten all the bad stuff and only holds the good.
God Himself invites to sit with Him, go through all of the files, and even make your own case against yourself. Not so you can forgive yourself, but so you can be acquitted.
26 Put Me in remembrance; Let us contend together; State your case, that you may be acquitted Isaiah 43