Forgiveness and Forgetfulness

Last night I told my husband (slightly sheepishly) that I had bought some MORE children’s books.

I like to buy children’s books and my boy likes to read them. It is not just a purchase, it is an Investment. So I am reasonably sure that although we didn’t discuss this purchase together beforehand (as we are accustomed to doing) that Jon won’t mind.

“Do you mind?” I asked.
“Well, no – except that – do you remember the discussion we had where I asked you to stop buying books and you agreed?”
My face fell. I had forgotten that conversation.

He was right. We had agreed not to buy any more books just at the moment. After the last belletristic bundle (Dr Seuss! How can you say no to Dr Seuss?) I had promised to restrain my trigger-happy internet-purchasing finger. I had promised – and then I had forgotten.

He smiled. (I think, deep down, he agrees that they are an Investment).

We are a forgetful people.

The Israelites hated their slavery in Egypt, but they had forgotten that by the time they reached the desert. “At least in Egypt we had meat!” they complained.  Already they had devalued their freedom.

Peter denied Jesus three times, and then wept when the cockerel crowed. He had forgotten the loyalty he had sworn just hours before.

In the time of the Judges they forgot about the Lord, and served other Gods.  God executed judgement; they remembered. Then they forgot that they had forgotten, and did it all again.

We are a forgetful people.


Every time I write in my spiritual journal I find I am writing the same things again and again. Why have I not learnt this lesson?  Why do I always fall into the same sin, the same patterns?

I wonder if I am the only one who always seems to return to the same place with God, repenting of  those same sins I was battling a year before.

We are a forgetful people.


I watch my boy playing in the kitchen.  He opens the cupboard, and I am poised, rebuke at the ready.  He looks at the cupboard, looks at me; his eyes glinting with defiance and hope.  I return his gaze with steadfastness and warning. Then he reaches a hand in –
“No, darling. You’re not allowed to touch.”

He closes the door and plays elsewhere.  Two minutes later he returns; opens the cupboard, reaches inside.
“No darling – what did Mummy say?”

I don’t get too cross. We are a forgetful people.

So much of my sin is tied up in forgetting; forgetting who God is, what He has done for me, who I am before Him. I forget His nature, His goodness, His commands. I forget my vows, my resolutions, my debt of gratitude.  I forget the break-through revelation I had last month, the one that would make all the difference to my spiritual discipline and restore my enthusiasm and fervour. I forget the sermon that I heard this morning.

I am grateful for the repetition of the Bible.  I need to hear the consistent cadence of fall, grace, atonement, redemption that recurs throughout the symphony of His revelation, reiterating time and again the promises of a generous God.

I am glad that I have a God who remembers.  I am glad that I have a God who reminds me.

But I am also glad, that for some things, I have a God who forgets:

“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more” (Jer 31:34)

For those days when I am more aware than usual of my wickedness, my fallenness, my foolishness, it is a relief to know that God is not sitting keeping score of my failures.  He has promised to forgive them and wipe them out.  He has forgotten them.

We are a forgetful people. We need a forgetful God.

Over to you:
– What are the ways that you see sin and forgetfulness intertwined in your life?
– What things help you to remember God’s character?


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2 Responses to Forgiveness and Forgetfulness

  1. Anne-Marie 7th March, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    It’s really encouraging to read your blog Tanya! You have a real talent for asking thought provoking questions and challenging the way I think about things like trust and illness and things!
    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who gets frustrated with her own forgetfulness! And I’m so glad we have a God who isn’t keeping tally of our sin!

    • Tanya 7th March, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

      Thank you! Always glad to hear that my annoying questioning is helpful… 🙂

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