Another year is gone, and what will we remember? What should we remember? The good, the bad or the ugly?
You may wonder how I came up with this title. Let me tell you.
Friends are supposed to love us regardless of all our “stuff,” right? They love us even though they know all about us. They know about the good, the bad and the ugly. This is what friends do: “A friend is one to whom one may pour our all the contents of one’s heart chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away!”- Dinah Mulock Craik
Then what to do with a person who is not so kind? One who is not “blowing the rest away?”
Just this past week, I encountered a person like that. A person who chose to walk away from our friendship, because I shared about the “bad” and the “ugly” in my life. This person chose to focus on my former shame, instead of focusing on the changes and the marvelous work of redemption and healing that God has done!
I will be honest… it punched my heart, and it punched hard! I was disappointed. Yet, I started to think! It caused me to remember and to not forget where I came from, and what and who I used to be. I remembered who I once was. I also thought about the potential I have to go back there! Oh no, really? Yes, we all do! And if you are like me, you don’t really want to be reminded of that, right? Especially not at the start of a New Year with all our New Years Resolutions! We really just like to forget what lies behind, leave it there, and focus on what lies ahead! Mmm… that is Scriptural! We only want to remember the good!
God makes it clear that HE does not remember our sins anymore; “For I will be merciful and gracious towards their sins and I will remember their deeds of unrighteousness no more.” (Hebrews 8:12) And yet, there are numerous passages where He instructs us to remember where we came from!
Deuteronomy 8:14 says: “Do not forget the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage!” He told them to remember where they once were! Bound by sin! Stuck in “Egypt!” And then He reminded them to remember Who saved and rescued them!
In the next chapter He emphasizes it again and says: “Remember [with remorse] and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day you left the land of Egypt until you arrived in this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 9:7) And in Deuteronomy 15:15, He goes on to say: “And you shall remember and thoughtfully consider that you were [once] a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you…”
This means we need to remember and not forget the former things. It means to “stay in touch” with an awareness of our dark side! Yes, to consider the bad and the ugly!
In his book Replenish by Lance Witt, he mentions the importance of “Staying in touch with your dark side”…or our depravity! Oooooo… who wants to do that? I’d rather talk about my victories rather than about those things that trip me up or used to trip me up. After all, it’s our victories that give people hope, right? Is it? Our stories of change Vs. the stories of chains?
Well, Lance says (and I agree): “Depravity is a word we don’t use much anymore. It feels old school and has a sharp, indicting edge. We’ve worked hard to soften the sharp edges of faith. We tend to focus on what people can be rather than what they are and were. We talk a lot bout life change and transformation, but rarely about our depravity and darkness of heart.” He continues: “I really believe part of what it means to be spiritually healthy is to avoid losing touch with one’s own depravity. I must hold in balance my blessedness and brokenness.”
I had to look up the word “depravity”! Remember my mother-tongue is not English, so I needed a bit of help! “Deprave” means: corrupt/wicked/pervert/ to be morally bad or evil! Wow! Pretty strong words! So to stay in touch with MY depravity means to stay in touch with my potential of being, corrupt, wicked, pervert, morally bad or evil! Oh boy! I don’t wanna go there for sure!
The reality is, this is the bad and the ugly part of ALL of us! We are all sinners, and we ALL fall short of the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 6:11 reminds us: “A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. (The depravity list, I’d say) Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.”
And even though “the old (previous moral and spiritual condition) has passed away, …and the fresh and new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17) the reality is: We still live in a fallen world and “the seduction of the flesh is still an everyday battle!” ( Lance Witt)
We still have the potential to do wrong! Noooooo! I don’t want to! But I still do! Paul wrote about this potential, himself! He said, “the good I want to do, I don’t…and the bad I don’t want to do, I do just that!” (My own words of Romans 8:19)
It is because of our flesh – “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out!” Romans 8:18.
And this is why we all need JESUS daily. “Staying in touch with our dark side” means we remember our potential to fall, the potential to do those things we’d rather forget! When we remember this potential, it should create humility in us. We can never boast and think we overcame things in and through our own strength or power. We can never trust ourselves to think we cannot fall again! Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:12 “So anyone who thinks they are standing strong should be careful that they don’t fall.”
Here is reality: You and I will have zero power to overcome and live a life of victory, unless we abide in Jesus, daily! We must remember WHO gives us the strength. We cannot trust ourselves! So, we seek, crave and require of Him – daily! Our lives depend on it! It is true!
Lance Witt says: “Staying in touch with my depravity helps foster humility and nurture dependence!” He goes on and quotes François Fenelon in his book Replenish: “The closer you get to God, the more miserable things you will find in your heart. This is not a negative thing – God allows it to let you lose confidence in yourself. You will have accomplished something when you can look at your inner corruptness without anxiety or discouragement and simply trust in God!”
As the “heart-punch” caused me to remember my depravity and my potential to do those things that once provoked the Lord, I am actually motivated by it! And yes, I am still sad I have lost a friend, but I am actually glad that I can go into 2017 remembering the good, the bad and the ugly! And it is not so bad after all!
In 2017 I will choose to remember and not forget… who I once was. I will remember and not forget who rescued, saved, restored and redeemed me. I will remember and not forget who I am now and who God says I am, a Daughter of the King of Kings! And I will remember and not forget…to go and tell what He has done!
What will you remember when you go into 2017? Will it be…the good, the bad and the ugly?