My son is nine. He has always amazed us with his incredible memory. He will randomly bring us experiences and family events that happened long ago that we didn’t think he was old enough to remember. Often, we had forgotten, but his memory brings back ours. I marvel at the things that stick in his little head and it reminds me to be intentional about how I conduct myself as a Christian, a husband, and a dad in his presence.
But there is one type of question he brings up every now and then that bugs me as a dad. Luke is a pretty good kid, and rarely does anything intentionally wrong – usually when he is in trouble, it’s something he’s learning about life rather than outright willful misbehavior. His heart is usually in the right place and when emotions get him carried away, he is quick to apologize when he calms down.
As a result, we have rarely needed to discipline him other than verbal correction or mild things like a “time out” or missing out on something or going to bed early. However, the few times we needed something more compelling – he remembers those, and often asks.
“Dad, remember that time you and mom boxed up all my cars for a week? What did I do so that you had to do that?” (This was five years ago!)
(or just today)
“Dad, why did I get my iPad taken away at camp?” I said, “Probably because we wanted you to just play outside and enjoy camp rather than be looking at a screen.” He answers, “No, I did that, but you let me use it if it was raining or at night some – but you took it away for a few days when I did something bad, what did I do?”
These questions drive me nuts because I never remember the offense. I have told him so many times, “Luke, I discipline you to help you grow and learn – but I also forgive you. And once I forgive you, I forget. I have no memory of what you did because I forgave you, and forgiveness means it’s like it never happened.”
He is never satisfied with this answer. He wants to remember what he did. I don’t think it’s for any other reason than curiosity, but it bugs me as a dad that he remembers these mild disciplinary actions years later; even long after I have forgotten them.
But as I’ve posted before – being a dad has taught be a lot about being a child of God. I probably drive my heavenly father nuts too. Constantly remembering my failures of the past. Asking him to forgive me, yet again.
I know my loving Father would say the same to me as I say to my boy:
“Karl, I discipline you to help you grow and learn – but I also forgive you. And once I forgive you, I forget. I have no memory of what you did because I forgave you, and forgiveness means it’s like it never happened.”
Of course, God may not “forget” (since He knows everything) but he functions in that manner and used that word to describe His forgiveness.
Repeatedly, Scripture assures us:
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” – Hebrews 8:12
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” – Isaiah 43:25
“I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” – Isaiah 44:22
And my favorite:
So, I guess I need to start listening to what I tell my son and quit bugging my Father about things in the past. We all need to live in today!
After all: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” – Philippians 3:13