Observe, Remember, Learn, and Praise
Everybody loves celebrating anniversaries of happy things: weddings, engagements, births, promotions, etc. We also, on occasion, observe the anniversaries of not-so-positive things, like assassinations and wars.
But do we ever commemorate the anniversaries of our failures? Of course not! Who wants to re-live a day when you were arrested, or fired, or caused a death in a traffic accident? These awful times in our lives were painful enough the first time around; it seems there would be no value in dredging them up again in our memories.
When we do wrong, and repent, God always graciously forgives, and that sin is expunged from every record, right?
Mmmm, yes and no. God forgives and forgets, but we don't. Every ugly second remains burned into our memories. Now, since God is God, He could have arranged that, upon forgiveness, every recollection of the event in question would be erased, and it would be as if nothing had ever occurred. But He didn't do that, did He? Interesting...
Why are we stuck with those memories, then? Since He doesn't "hold anything against us" anymore, why do we still have the ability to burn with shame over something covered by the blood of Jesus?
I submit that this is for our benefit, not a forgotten detail or some kind of an additional punishment. Sure, we could continue to "flog ourselves" (figuratively) over some past mistake, and find ourselves trapped in a cycle of guilt and remorse over something God doesn't even recall!
But no, I'm not suggesting that it's healthy to endlessly sift through the debris of some mistake that can't be unmade. I think it's equally unhealthy, however, to just have an "out of sight, out of mind" kind of attitude about things for which we have been forgiven.
Let's look to the word of God for an example.
Peter's denial of Jesus, three times, just at the moment when Jesus was in crucial need of supportive friendship, was a whopper of an offense, and Peter wept bitterly over it. The Bible doesn't record a clear moment when Peter repented and was forgiven, but it is implied a couple of times.
Women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus on the morning of the third day, and they encountered an angel instead. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'" (Mark 16:6-7, NIV) The specific inclusion of Peter by name is a beautiful indication that things were right again in Peter's life.
Later, in a post-breakfast beach discussion, Jesus reinstated Peter, never mentioning Peter's previous sin. (See John 21:15-22.)
So, if we make a minor leap of faith, we can assume that Peter was forgiven, and we know that he went on to become a major evangelist of the faith and contributed to the scriptures.
Given what we know about Peter's character and personality, and presuming he was forgiven, do you think he just forgot all about what happened in the courtyard of the high priest that fateful night?
How do you suppose he felt for the rest of his life when he heard the sound of a rooster crowing?
Christian men and women, don't ever forget the searing pain laid upon your heart by the Holy Spirit's conviction. Don't become blind to a series of events that definitely led to temptation and failure for you before!
When the anniversary you dread rolls around again, remember that you are forgiven (GLORY!), and that you are no less than an heir to God Almighty!
Examine your heart and mind, and be sure you aren't "setting yourself up" again for the same fall.
Look at where you were, and where you are now, and marvel at the patient work of remolding that He has done with your life.
Determine if someone needs to hear a word of advice or the testimony that is uniquely yours, based on the events that you've struggled through.
Celebrate our greatest failures? No.
Revel in misery, woe, and regret? No.
Forget all about it? Also no.
Observe the anniversary carefully and prayerfully; remember, learn, and praise.
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