“I Can’t Remember”

I had an introductory zoom meeting yesterday with someone to discuss youth ministry. The conversation began with us getting to know one another. Somewhere along the way, I mentioned that I had a fiancé. The eyes of the woman that I was talking to lit up, and we began to discuss wedding things for a while. The conversation moved on to more of the business at hand, but me being engaged would come back up from time to time.

After the meeting had ended, I took a moment to reflect on what we had talked about. It occurred to me that she only knew as engaged, not divorced. Everyone in my life has known me as divorced for the past couple of years. This, sadly, had become part of my identity. I felt as though it was a scarlet letter that I wore upon my chest. To the woman on the other end of the zoom, that is not who I am. She had no knowledge of my previous life; she only knows me for who I am today. Moreover, she knows me only as God has made me to be.

This reminded me of a story that Brennan Manning shared in his book The Ragamuffin Gospel:

A few years ago, rumors spread that a certain Catholic woman was having visions of Jesus. The archbishop decided to check her out.
“Is it true, ma’am, that you have visions of Jesus?” asked the cleric.
“Yes,” the woman replied.
“Well, the next time you have a vision, I want you to ask Jesus to tell you the sins that I confessed in my last confession. Please call me if anything happens.”
Ten days later, the woman notified her spiritual leader of a recent apparition.
Within the hour, the archbishop arrived. “What did Jesus say?” he asked.
She took his hand and gazed deep into his eyes. “Bishop,” she said, “these are his exact words: I CAN’T REMEMBER.”

Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up and Burnt Out (Portland, OR.: Multnomah Press, 1990), 116-117

This has become one of my favorite stories. God doesn’t view us as who we were or as our mistakes. He isn’t holding on to our past sins to throw them in our face some time in the future. For those who have placed their faith in Jesus, all your sins are forgiven and forgotten. I am going to share a few verses to drive this point home.

Jeremiah 31:35, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Isaiah 43:25, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

2 Corinthians 5:19, “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.”

Micah 7:19, “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!”

Isaiah 1:18,’ “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

I could go on and on and on. Scripture is clear: through believing in Christ, your sins are washed away and have become ‘white as snow.’ They are not who you are. Now, they may have played a role in shaping you, but they do not define you. My divorce has become a pivotal part of my story, but it is not my entire story. It is in my past; it is not my present or my future. I have no need to dwell upon what God has moved me beyond.

The same goes for you. Just as the person with whom I was meeting saw me for who I am today and my future, not my past, God sees us the same way because of Christ. It’s time that we stop living in the past and focus on being in the here and now that God has created for us. If God doesn’t concentrate on our past mistakes, we shouldn’t either. We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) with a wonderful future ahead of us. God has promised that to us. We have no need to define ourselves as something that the Father doesn’t. We should only define ourselves as loved, cherished, and forgiven children of God.

Published by smith1626

I am the Director of Youth Ministries at St. John United Methodist Church in Scott Depot, WV. Mostly, I am a sinner saved by amazing grace.

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