Before my friend Frank, became a Christian, he asked in earnest, “Greg, when I receive Christ as my Lord and Savior, will I forget my past life?”
I had shared with him a few scriptures that speak to starting over, a chance for a “do over.”
Scriptures like, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” (Philippians 3:13)
No, Frank, you will not forget your past life, even if there are those things you would just as soon forget, BUT you will be forgiven of your past life.
Even as Nicodemus didn’t understand what Jesus meant when he told him, “You must be born again.” (John 3:7) So, too, Frank didn’t understand how his past could be forgiven much less be forgotten.
Have you made a mess of your life? Would you like a chance for a “do over”?
Are there things in your life that you would like to forget?
Would you change anything if you could live your life again?
Do you know people who say they wouldn’t change a thing if they were to relive their life? Is that you?
I don’t know whether to admire people like that or call them out as being less than truthful.
Either way, I must confess, that isn’t me. But thanks be to God, He is the God of the second chance, third chance, 70-times-7 chance!
Do you remember that classic song by Frank Sinatra, “I Did It My Way?” He sings, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.”
Again, I don’t know whether to admire those sentiments or call him out on it.
When (notice I didn’t say “if”) problems in my life show up, it is usually because I am trying to do things, “my way.”
While I can’t live my life over again, I can live the rest of my life without regrets.
Here are a few other things I can do:
I can be forgiven and I can forgive. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
I can live a life free of guilt and shame.
I can realize that my entire life, good, bad and ugly, has gone into making me who I am today.
By the grace of God, we are who we are today because of the great love of our heavenly Father who “gave us His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
In three days, we will ring in a new year. Some will go to parties, others will go to church, and still others will stay home.
For the most part, we are happy to see another year come to an end and anticipate the coming year.
Forgiveness is still the biggest need we have in our lives.
Forgiveness is ultimately why Jesus came and that forgiveness is why and how we can “have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10)
There is still a need for most of us to either receive, or give, forgiveness in our lives — even if the people who come to your mind right now as you read this aren’t nearby or even still living.
If you need to forgive, do it now. Don’t start another year without clearing the slate.
Remember these words:
“Forgive as Christ forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)
Forgive and forget.
Happy New Year, and happy new you!
See you Sunday!
Greg Schannep is pastor of Faith Fellowship in Nolanville.