While I was on vacation, I spent some time ‘digitizing’ some old memories. I have a number of VHS video tapes commemorating some special occasions. Knowing that such tape has a ‘shelf life’ of sorts, it seemed to me expedient to transfer them to DVD. So I bought the appropriate computer paraphernalia to do so, and went to town.
Among the things I copied to DVD were some sermons I had preached for a class in seminary, and the service of worship for my ordination (we’re talking ancient history here!). Both recordings are worth keeping, and each is instructive to me in its own way.
The tape of my old preaching class sermons reminds me of how far I’ve come. The tape of my ordination reminds me of where I come from, in a ‘church’ sense. Watching myself preach in my earliest days of preaching is not easy; it makes me feel sorry for congregations that had to listen to me! Watching my ordination service helps me recall that God set me aside for a special purpose. Seeing that particular tape was especially emotional, since there were many people at that service who hold a special place in my heart. Some are living, others have died, but each played a significant role in getting me to that stage of life and ministry.
You can understand why I’d want to preserve the memory of my ordination service. You might wonder why I would want to keep the DVD of my old classroom sermons! Yet, good, bad, and ugly – each is a memory of my past.
God knows where we’ve come from. He understands our joys and sorrows. He has walked alongside us when we’ve lived righteously, and when we’ve committed all our sins. That may make us shudder. But the good news in the midst of all that is that when we choose faith in Christ, God does not remember those times when he walked alongside us in our sin.
People of old often lived in fear of God; many people today, even some who claim to be people of faith, live in fear of God. Yet it was centuries ago that God promised to his covenant people that they would not need to live in fear: “I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts…. And I will forgive their wickedness and will never again remember their sins” (Jeremiah 31.33b, 34c, NLT).
Really, when God looks at a follower of Jesus, Jesus is who he sees! That’s amazing news. God’s tape of our sins has been erased, and will never be transferred to DVD. We are free to live to praise the Lord!