Sunday, 8 August 2010

Drawing a line under it

Did you ever have a day where you felt, “I will be glad when I can draw a line under this day and move one?” Have you ever had a ‘life’ where you felt the same.

I have been asked to give the eulogy for a friend who is desperately ill. It came as a surprise and I wondered why I had been asked. I think I know part of the reason, he feels his past will be in safe hands. Would my ‘past’ be safe in your hands? Is our ‘past’ safe in God’s hands. How can we move on when the past still haunts us? How can we move on when we can never be sure whether or not the past will catch up with us? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if my past could be in safe hands? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God could just ‘draw a line under the past’? The Bible says he can.

The epistle to the Hebrews constantly contrasts the Old Covenant with the New Covenant and reminds its readers of the original terms of that New Covenant as we first read it in Jer 31:31-34. It promises a new heart and a new spirit and God’s own Spirit coming to take up residence within and it concludes with an amazing statement... ""For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." Jer 31:34 NKJV or as it comes through into Hebrews... "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." Heb 8:12 NKJV. God’s mercy will stretch to encompass the extremes of our unrighteousness and will ensure forgiveness. Our unrighteousness can never take him by surprise and as the chorus says...
His love has no limit
His grace has no measure
His power has no boundaries
Known unto man
For out of his infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.

But how can a God who has all knowledge say he will no longer remember?

We should distinguish here between forgetting and not remembering. Forgetfulness is a frailty but refusing to remember is a choice. God is determined to ‘draw a line under it’ and he will not allow the past to leak into the present.

Let me illustrate...
"A certain man had two sons...” It is one of the most famous stories ever told. Luke 15:11-32. I won’t retell it here but when the prodigal younger son comes to his senses he determines to head home and hopes for a job in the kitchens. "I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”" Luke 15:18–19 NKJV When he returns home even before he begins this confession his father wraps him in a great bear-hug. The son begins his prepared speech but before he can continue with his plans for a job in the kitchen his father has already moved on... "‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’" Luke 15:22–24 NKJV Did you notice what the father said about his son's sin? That’s right... nothing, he has chosen not to remember it!

The story has a sequel. The older son is all too aware of his younger brother’s record and he tries to get the father to pass a judgment; "these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him." Luke 15:29–30 NKJV Did you notice what the father said about the younger son’s sin this time? That’s right... nothing, he has chosen not to remember it!

Will you come home? A father’s embrace awaits you, a new start awaits you. You need not fear the past. When you share that past with God you put it into safe hands and he draws a line under it. It is not a failing, it is his choice... “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

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