As a man in my mid-sixties, I can look back on a lot of life. Most of my memories are carried in the seasons – in the feel of the air, the shades of light around me – and the music. Those memories feel timeless, and can bring me back decades, to a time when I was young.
Reflecting on these memories, I can see people long gone. Sometimes these people are gone from my present life, but perhaps still walking the earth. And others, like my brothers and sisters, my parents and old friends, I know to be gone. And other faces are not pleasant, bringing me face-to-face with a life lived apart from God.
Believers must forgive – ourselves and others – and we must not live in regret. Believers are told that “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.” We are also told that in eternity these sins will not be remembered.
But while we still walk the earth, we may painfully be reminded of what I refer to as “mind pollution.” It is often too easy to recall wrongs done, and the painful results.
While we follow Him in forgiveness, we must go cautiously. As we forgive, we must not ever let our hearts draw closer to sin itself – to warm to it, become complacent to it or in any way tolerant of it.
Some, when referring to regretful incidents of life, will use the phrase, “the past is dead.” But what does that mean? Unexplained, it has little or no meaning to me. I see my sin as it was, is and will always be to me – soul decimating.
Those who are fortunate enough to mature in years have much to offer for the edification of our brothers and sisters. In the 1920s, eighty-year-old Wyatt Earp was asked about his memories of the notorious gunfight at the OK Corral in the wild west of Tombstone, Arizona, which popular culture at the time was glorifying. The visibly saddened former lawman replied that he would rather think of more pleasant things.
As God’s people, we need to stand for renewed life lived in rejection of sin which leads to “death deader than dead.” By turning our thoughts to lessons learned – imparted by the Holy Spirit – we become proactive in the spiritual struggle we wage “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
When I look back at those crisp Fall days I loved long ago, I see the young man with the hope of a better life – hope put in my heart by the Holy Spirit even then, long ago.
I was set apart from birth. God first loved me – and loved me when I showed Him no love until my coming to faith at age 30. He edits my memories, removing that which produced despair.
The Spirit reminds me of my rebirth. And that rebirth gives me lessons that I recall throughout a life set apart by Him.