Christianity 201

September 23, 2013

Learning How to Unlearn Things

Sea of Forgetfulness

Recently I heard someone say of a televised music performance, “Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t un-see it.” While the memory starts to go as people age, for most of us, our memories are able to recall all manner of details from the past, often particularly as they relate to other people. Trying to forgive and forget is just about impossible. The synapses — or whatever it is — in our brain work too well. How does God do it?

In Micah 7, we read:

19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.  (KJV)

From this we derive the phrase, “the sea of God’s forgetfulness,” which also occurs in an old gospel song. Being able to forget is considered a human failing but a divine attribute.

There is also this idea in Hebrews 8:

12 For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.”  (NIV)

Mark O. Wilson looked at this topic recently.  Click the title below to link directly to his blog:

Just Forget It

A few years ago, I had the privilege of spending the evening with a saintly author, Wesley Duewel who was in his 90’s. In the course of our conversation, I happened to mention a recent scandal involving a well known religious figure, which made national news.

Dr. Duewel seemed confused for a moment.

“I’m sure you remember. . .” I said and added a few juicy details. Then, the kind minister smiled and said, “Oh yes. ..it was completely out of my mind  until you brought it up.  I chose to forget about that.”

I was appropriately rebuked.

Rehashing another person’s failures doesn’t do anybody any good. Sometimes, the best alternative is just to forget the whole thing.

Forgetting things can be rather frustrating. All of us know the stress of attempting to pull a lost memory from the dark, cobwebbed corners of the mind.

Some people are more forgetful than others. I hate to admit it, but I’m a member of the “forgetful club.” We’ve organized “Forgetters Anonymous” – but nobody remembers to go to the meetings!

Fortunately, I haven’t forgotten too many earth shattering things along the way. Probably the worst ones were: when I forgot about a funeral I was supposed to perform or when my brain blanked out and I forgot to write my column for the newspaper- or perhaps the time I forgot to take the offering at church! I was finishing the service with a benediction, when the ushers finally caught my attention by waving the offering plates like crazy.

So far, I’ve done pretty well remembering important stuff like my wife’s birthday, our anniversary, funerals, Christmas and Packer games. Actually, forgetting isn’t as bad as it’s cracked up to be.

Sometimes, it’s better to forget than to remember.

It’s better to forget the hurt someone has caused you.
It’s better to forget to “rub it in” when you were right.
It’s better to forget what others “owe” you.
It’s better to forget the minor annoyances – the bugs on life’s windshield.
It’s better to forget your failures, your past sins, and your losses.
It’s better to forget to toot your own horn.
It’s better to forget your resentment and disappointment.
It’s better to forget to complain.

In this regard, choosing to forget is good medicine for the soul.

“Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize..” Phil. 3:13

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