As you get older, and by that I mean over 35ish, forgetfulness becomes both a scary thing and a thing you long for. Scary because you wonder if your growing forgetfulness of the whereabouts of keys, the thing you went to the store for and your child’s name is busyness or hormones or dementia. Forgetfulness is also longed for because you’ve lived long enough to do things and say things and experience things that bring either that hot flush of shame or that sharp stab of pain. Forgetting would be a mercy.
We usually don’t though, do we? Those things never really leave us, and we think they should but they stay, often for good reason. Not good feelings, but good reason, God reasons.
The Apostle Peter knew something about wanting to forget things, and knowing the importance of never forgetting. I think Peter must be everybody’s secret favorite disciples because he made the most mistakes, and the ones we all make-shooting our mouth off about what we will and won’t do, only to be proven wrong almost immediately, acting and speaking rashly, one minute getting it totally right, only to get it totally wrong in the seeming next moment. Then there is that whole denying Jesus thing, Peter was well acquainted with embarrassment and shame. He had a lot of memories part of him longed to forget.
For Peter, the things he may have longed to forget were irrevocably tied to the things he never wanted to forget. The denial around one fire was tied to a conversation around another fire and a call to feed His sheep. The times his mouth got him in trouble were tied to the times his mouth spoke with Spirit fueled boldness and souls were saved, first the Jews, then the Gentiles. What he had been was tied to who he had become because of the cross.
In his second epistle, Peter greets his readers and then he delivers one of my favorite passages in the Bible, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the One who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises.” Because of that, he goes on to say, we need to continue to grow in godly character and then we will be fruitful, but if we don’t, you know what we are like? Peter says we are shortsighted, even to blindness and this is why, “(he) has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”
Peter is desperate that his readers don’t forget. He says “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them and are established in the present truth….as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you….I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.” What does he want them to remember? The truth. He wanted them to be and continue to be established in the Word of God.
For those of us who follow Jesus, the Word of God is irrevocably tied to what we were and what we have become-lost but now found, blind but now seeing.
Listen, if we forget what we were, we run the risk of forgetting what we’ve been forgiven of. If we forget what’s been done to us we run the risk of forgetting the healing that’s offered to us. If we forget every pain, we run the risk of forgetting the sweetness of comfort. If we forget what we’ve been rescued from, we could become what we were. We remember Him when we remember us before Him.
That doesn’t mean it’s helpful to sit around and dwell on the pain and shame of the past. It does mean that when those flush inducing memories rear their head, and you know they do, you can choose to remember the pain and shame, or remember that all of that was covered by the One who took every