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July 31st – what it means to me

July 31, 2013

Psalm 103
Of David.

1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.

22 Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.  Praise the Lord, my soul.

Today is July the 31st, it is a day like any other day to most people. The summer is upon us and we seek refuge from the heat. This day has been an important day for me for many years. At first It was the birthday of my now ex-wife and we celebrated many of them together. It is also the birthday of one of my friend’s dog, though this is not much of a reason to celebrate, the friendship was not a strong one and the dog was a little bit obnoxious, but never the less I remember the day for that as well. These two reasons are enough to make the day stand out in my thoughts but it carries another more sobering memory with it as well. On this day five years ago I was released from jail after spending a little more than eight months incarcerated.

At the top of this post you saw Psalm 103. David is speaking to those of us that have made mistakes in our lives and have sin against God. The message is one of the most joyous and it is filled with the hope that God’s love for us is so much more than the love that we can muster for others or even Him.

There was a time when I looked at this day with joy. It represented the return of my freedom and the beginning of my new life in service to God. The past several years it has not been that way. While God has truly forgiven and forgotten my sins He has kept his the promise that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) but others, including me. have not.

What does that mean? Did I not forgive myself of the sins that I have committed? I cannot answer this question for anyone other than myself when I say that I have forgiven myself. I am not going to discuss the what that represents and how atonement fits into all of this, but what I am going to talk about is the memories and why they are valuable.

A journey to any destination takes time and during that journey there are many points, landmarks, that are reached. We pass people, places and things as we move through the journey of life. We also pass through experiences and these experiences shape us and are as vivid part of the scenery as the view of the Grand Canyon is majestically awe inspiring. We can view the negative experiences as things that we truly want to forget or we can view them as part of the journey and as such appreciate them. Here is were the lesson gets difficult.  As a card carrying atheist until the moment when I woke from a very bad dream I can tell you that the most horrible thing that happened in my life was also the most positive thing to happen to me and many of those that were part of my life.

I saw a commentary on Psalm 103 that struck me with the realization that God promises that he will not remember our sins but there is no mention of what we are to do.  When Jesus in the Book of John Chapter 8 shows the crowd that is ready to stone the woman that committed adultery the error of casting stones when you are a sinner yourselves, he turns to her and gives her a command to “go and sin no more.”  He does not say don’t worry about, it’s okay.  He compels her to do what is right under God’s law.

There is no guilt to carried here but there is memory.  It may be unpleasant memory because sin is not pleasant, someone is always getting hurt.  I hear that hurt in the voice of my youngest daughter every time I speak with her, whether it is there or not that day.  The sin was real, the act of forgiveness sublime!  The celebration of the sin would be a mockery of the love of God, the failure to recognize the significance of God’s gesture is cowardice.  I was wrong, but He loved me any way. How awesome is that?



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  1. “But He loved me anyway”-what an awesome loving God we serve. Thanks for sharing. ~Blessings~ Rebecca


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