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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Forgive – and forget?

As a ‘night-bird’, one of the little luxuries of my de facto ‘retirement’ is that I don’t have to rise in the morning as soon as the alarm goes off. In fact, it is only on rare occasions that I set the alarm! What I enjoy is being able to lie there, snug as the proverbial bug, and listen to the radio – and there are many very good programmes available, not least first thing in the morning.

Yesterday morning, the BBC Radio 4 Today programme was followed by Start the Week, presented by Andrew Marr ( if you are interested!). One of the topics was forgetfulness. Now, I don’t want any comments from Cannuckbard re my ever-advancing years. After all, it is only an accident of birth (or, two accidents of birth!) that has me as the eldest in the family, and Cannuckbard the youngest! No, this was quite a serious discussion, the gist of which was that the way in which the Internet holds all information forever, with ever-decreasing storage costs, and simpler retrieval (I can purchase a 2Gb memory stick – the equivalent of 1475 HD floppy discs - for less than what I used to pay for a box of 20 floppies, and retrieval is almost instant!), it is easier to record than to forget.

The problems that can arise were illustrated by examples such as the personal information that is displayed – and stored – on ‘social websites’ (Bebo, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). One specific that was cited was that of a Canadian professor who, in an academic article, had confessed to having once taken the drug LSD in the 1960s – over forty years earlier – and who, when a border guard ‘Googled’ him and discovered this, was banned from entering the U.S. of A. for life!

The speaker then suggested that for all of human history, forgetting was easy because it is “… built into us …” biologically! I would beg to differ. Indeed, for decades I explained to pupils that our minds are so wondrously designed that they retain everything that we read, see, hear, smell, and experience. The trick is in triggering a particular memory at the time we need to recall something. And how often do certain situations cause us to instantly recall an event from many years ago?!

We often hear of people being encouraged to forgive and forget, and explaining that, while they may manage the first, they will not be able to manage the second. This is the wonder of the forgiveness of Almighty God. When we come to Him, in the Name of the Lord, Jesus Christ; confessing our own sinfulness, and our total inability to consistently meet even our own standards, let alone His; He not only forgives (I John 1:9), but also casts them away (Micah 7:19). It isn’t even a case of ‘God can forget’, as much as ‘God is the only One Who is able to not remember’.

The internet may well remember all of the information that is keyed into it. But, praise God, His forgiveness makes my sin, in His eyes, disappear forever (see Isaiah 1:18). Of course, that true forgiving and forgetting does depend on genuine confession and repentance. Have you confessed your sin?

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