I sat transfixed, that last evening of our Women's Retreat, as she spoke about forgiveness - more specifically forgiving ourselves. A mixture of fear and hope whirled around in my heart. Could I possibly, once and for all, forgive myself for the things that haunted my nights and sometimes even my days?
I am a good forgiver - some even say I too easily forgive and forget, that sometimes things need to be forgiven and dealt with. I'm not very good at confrontation. But that is something for another time.
The one I find most difficult to forgive is me. I know that my sins are covered by the blood of Jesus - that His death on the cross was all the sacrifice needed for every sin I could ever possibly commit. I know that. It is the forgetting that is so difficult.
Over and over again, the things I most regret run through my mind like a video set on never ending replay. The nights are the most difficult. Once begun, the list runs back through the years unearthing all the things I've confessed, all the things He's forgiven with such grace and love.
She spoke that night about such things - this inability to let go of the past. Then she asked us to take paper and pen and write them down, all those things that stalked with weapons of guilt and shame. With those opposing emotions of fear and hope I wrote.
Then she told us to fold the paper tightly and place it in the container she was passing around. It made its way around the room, filling with the grief and weight of so many burdened hearts.
"I am not going to read these," she said. "I'm going to take them outside to the campfire and toss every one of them in. They are going to burn up and disappear, never to be whole again."
That was all, but I felt something stir deep inside. There was a lifting of a tremendous weight and an overwhelming sense of peace. Something about knowing that paper would be forever destroyed made forgiveness real. It was a picture of what the Father had been saying all along. He forgives and remembers no more. How, I wondered, is it possible for the God who knows all things to forget the terrible things I've done? I believe it is simply that He chooses to do so. He clears my record of guilt (Ps. 32:2) and puts my sin out of sight (Ps. 32:1).
There are times I am tempted to look back over my shoulder, but I remember that fire and my sins all burned to ashes. And I accept grace.
linking to Ann's today
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