Remembering the Right Things

Two friends, Joe and Sam, were walking through the desert. After a while, they got into a heated argument and, in anger, Joe slapped Sam across the face. At that point Sam felt very hurt, but did not say a word. He simply knelt down and wrote these words in the sand: “Today my best friend slapped me in the face.”

The two men continued their journey and eventually came to an oasis. Hot, tired, and dusty, they decided to take a bath in a pool of water which was there. Sam waded out into the pool, but to his surprise stepped into a trench where the water was over his head. Unable to swim, he began to panic and called out to his friend for help. Joe quickly plunged into the water, grabbed Sam, and pulled him to safety at the edge of the pool. Later that evening, Joe found Sam sitting on a large rock with a chisel, writing these words in the stone: “Today my best friend saved my life.”

Joe asked, “Sam, why after I hurt you, did you write in the sand? And now, why do you write in stone?”

Sam smiled and replied, “When a friend hurts me I try to write it down in the sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it away. When something great happens, I try to engrave it in stone, where it cannot be erased no matter how hard the wind blows.”

Friends, one of the most amazing verses in the Bible is Isaiah 43:25, where the Lord says to us, "I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” I don’t think this means that the reality of our sin, our rebellion against God, is erased from His mind. Because God is all knowing, He is certainly aware of all that we have done, said, or thought. What this verse does mean is that the memory of our sin is erased from God’s heart. He does not hold what we have done wrong against us. If we have turned to Jesus Christ and trusted in Him as Lord and Savior, we have experienced the Lord’s free and full forgiveness. In God’s heart, He forgets what we have done, but always remembers what the Lord Jesus has done for us. Through His life, death, and resurrection, all our sins have been forgiven and His own righteousness is counted as our own.

Friends, if we have experienced that wonderful forgiveness in our lives, we need to extend it to others. That means it is important that we forget some things quickly and remember other things for a long time. When someone, especially a person close to us, hurts us in some way we need to be willing to forgive and forget that offense. To not do so invites bitterness to infect our soul. However, when someone shows us love and compassion, that memory needs to be etched in both our minds and hearts. When it is, it will make it easier for us to treat that person in the right way. With God’s help, let’s learn to write some things in sand, and other things in stone.
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Dan Erickson