It’s painful. Or at least it can be. We all have events, moments, times in our past that we just generally would rather not remember. Bad choices, painful news, unforeseen circumstances often joined by unwanted consequences … all of these can sometimes serve as moving images in our minds. At least they do for me. I can say, there are many such “videos” that can play in my brain that I quite wish would be erased.
One example goes back almost exactly 33 years ago to the early days of my sophomore year of college. Having lived in my fraternity house the second semester of my freshman year, it was somewhat automatic to do the same the following year. Plus, I had a roommate who I got along with quite well and who I respected greatly since he was an upper classman. Little did any of us know that at 2:54am on September 5, 1986 that 58 of us would have narrowly escaped a fire that gutted our house. The images (from outside) of the house burning, and the windows of my room exploding are some that I will never forget. But perhaps the most dramatic images of the event are those I can’t quite recall.
Fortunately, several guys that night were out late and were awake enough when the fire started to run through the house shouting to wake all of us up, and all of us got out safely. I was quite a heavy sleeper at the time (and was until we had kids haha), and really don’t recall anything until I was already outside the house looking back on it … engulfed in flames. I got out without fully waking up and without fulling being conscious of what was up. A few days later, after the major stuff started to settle down, my roommate pulled me aside to chat. He confronted me … lovingly but seriously … about the fact that in our escape, I basically got up and ran. Perhaps like many of us, including him, but that I didn’t stop to ensure he was up and out. It’s a scene I replay in my mind frequently, though I long ago sought and received his forgiveness. But that scene never quite gets erased or even faded.
That’s but one example, and there are literally hundreds more things I can look back on and feel less-than-proud over them. I suspect we all have those times. It’s like in football when a play is questionable or close, and television commentators say, “let’s go to the replay,” and show the play over and over and over, even from different angles. By the tenth time you see the play, it’d just be better not to see it any longer. Especially when it’s a play that works to the detriment of your team. For many, if not most, of us there are plays in our lives when we would just say, “Let’s NOT go to the replay!”
A lot of us probably see God that way, too. As in, some day when we die all that’s going to happen is God is going to turn on a huge monitor in heaven and play back for us and all to see, all the painful, embarrassing, hurtful, and maybe even damaging stuff we’ve done. Sort of the big cosmic, condescending, “let’s go to the replay,” as He casts us into the pit of hell. NO! That’s not the case, and I can assert that on the authority of God’s own Word. Romans 6:10 (NIV) …
The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
See, Jesus died once, for all. For all people who will accept His gift; for all the sins (the painful, embarrassing, hurtful, and damaging stuff) we’ve ever done. He is telling us, “Let’s NOT go to the replay!” There IS NO REPLAY. That’s the greatest news ever. Sure, we are unfortunately stuck with the brain video in our memories, but God assures us, if we have accepted the absolutely FREE gift of Jesus’s sacrifice, that (Hebrews 8:12) …
And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.
Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.”
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
Yes, we are stuck with the replay to a degree. I wish I could, but I simply cannot blot out the stain of those things in my past that I regret, that caused me pain, or worse yet, caused someone else pain. But here’s the great news … as much as my brain (and Satan, our enemy, the liar of liars, and “accuser of the brethren”) wants to scream out to us, “let’s go to the replay,” we have an all-loving, all-caring, all-merciful Father calmly reassuring us saying, “let’s NOT go to the replay.” In fact, I daresay if we asked Him, He’d say, “what replay?”
The prophet Travis (Tritt … okay, he’s not a prophet, he’s one of the best country singers ever though in my not-so-humble opinion), has a great song, called “I See Me.” In it, Travis describes looking at his son, and seeing a lot of Travis in him … in behaviors, mistakes, and hard experiences … and being fearful that would carry over. In other words, not only “let’s go to the replay,” but that the replay would re-create that same damage. But that’s the great thing about God … just as Travis observes, “I look at him, and I see me,” God looks at you, and me … and He says, “I look at [you], and I see Me [Jesus, His Son].” If we have Christ, we have forgiveness. For everything. Forever. God says, “Let’s NOT go to the replay.”
More than that, if we have Christ, He says, “There IS NO replay!”
Now THAT is something worth doing a whole bunch of touchdown-type celebrating!
Soli Deo gloria!