Those who use Facebook will know that it has a memories area where it reproduces previously published posts. Today I had a memory, some photos of my old school where I had worked for 29 years. The school closed permanently in 2016 and I returned 5 years ago today to take some photos of the school’s demolition. The photos brought back to my mind thoughts of every area of the school, each classroom, the offices, the canteen, the school fields. There were thoughts of staff, pupils and parents going back to 1987. Most of my time at the school was positive, I had loved my job, but there were some bad memories. All teachers have difficult pupils, difficult classes, and difficult parents to deal with and sometimes it can be very unpleasant.
We all have bad memories, don’t we? I don’t believe there’s anyone on earth who can look back and say every day was a positive one. We will have times when we did wrong, times of which we are ashamed when we look back and we feel guilty. The guilt can run so deep that it’s impossible to bury the memories.
When memories torment us what can we do? Depending on how bad it is one thing to be considered is to seek professional help. Don’t be ashamed to visit a doctor to get yourself referred to a counsellor. Is there a special friend to who you can open up without them judging you or making you feel worse? Is there anyone else who can help? Well, to that question there is, someone you may never have considered asking for help. That person is God.
God is our maker and he understands us better than anyone else. One of the Psalms says, “You have looked deep into my heart, LORD, and you know all about me. You know when I am resting or when I am working, and from heaven you discover my thoughts. You notice everything I do and everywhere I go. Before I even speak a word, you know what I will say, and with your powerful arm you protect me from every side. I can’t understand all of this! Such wonderful knowledge is far above me.” (1) The God who has perfect knowledge of us knows about our hidden memories, and it makes no difference to the opportunity he presents us. We can have the guilt, shame, whatever it is, removed by the power of his love.
We’re very good at holding on to past guilt and shame even when God has forgiven us. We don’t need to. God once said, “I will forgive their sins and forget the evil things they have done.” (2) That applies to each of us. God is prepared to forget the haunting memories where we are the guilty ones because he loves us. We may only see the negatives and we give up on ourselves. God saw the same negatives and provided a way where they can be dealt with. The Bible says, “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.” (3) The death spoken of is spiritual or eternal death, an everlasting separation from God and the joy he brings. If we bring those sins, or guilty acts, to God and accept the death of his Son Jesus on our behalf we are forgiven. God “forgets the evil things we have done” and allows us to live forever with him.
Let’s not go through life punishing ourselves. We may have done wrong. We may need to deal with it openly and honestly before people and accept the consequences. Where God is concerned, however, he is willing to do what people may not. He will forgive us and welcome us as one of his own.
“Yet some people accepted him and put their faith in him. So he gave them the right to be the children of God.” (4)
Bible References (all taken from the Contemporary English Version):
- Psalm 139
- Jeremiah 31:34
- John 3:16
- John 1:12