When I was about 4 years old, I spent many afternoons with an elderly neighbor. Some days we hung out on her front porch as she peeled apples, other days were spent watching “Days of Our Lives,” and some days we walked nearby to greet other neighbors. It was on one of these walks that a neighbor made a comment that would mark my life. I remember exactly where I was standing when she looked right at me and said, “Well, aren’t you the cutest little fat kid.” After 35 years I can still remember it as if it were yesterday!
That memory has come to mind many times over the years, and it definitely is not a memory that encourages me. On the contrary, it’s a memory that Satan uses to beat me up, to make me think that my past and my identity are wrapped up in my external appearance and in what others think of me. Satan tries to play the role of Historian in my life, but he is only a negative historian, highlighting moments like these, and highlighting my past sin, in order to bring me down. He claims to hold the true, historical record of my past, and although it’s true that in my past there IS sin and hurt, the negative historian does not whisper what is truth, only what has been true. Truth and facts aren’t always the same thing.
There is only one true Historian of my life. God was not just in my past, He was the author of my past. In fact, God’s plans have been in motion since the foundation of the world and He is unchanging: “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (Psalm 102:25-27)
How then does the one true Historian see our past? How does God tell our story? If we all have sin, hurt, evil, and other terrible things, how can He see anything else? If God is omniscient, how can He really forgive and forget?
Certainly one can’t be all knowing, or omniscient, and forget our past in the traditional sense. The human understanding of “forgetting” the past would render God less than omniscient. He can, however, CHOOSE not to remember or call to mind our sin. As it says in Psalm 103:12, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” The east and the west are both infinite concepts, so our sin has been removed an infinite distance from us. He is choosing not to remember our sin. Like a movie editor that only chooses to keep the parts that make the final cut, God is a master storyteller of our history. He’s editing out the false us and enhancing the history that is our true identity.
God sees those of us who are in Christ Jesus as perfect: “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: ‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’ Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’ And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.” (Hebrews 10:14-18)
You are perfect now. The old is gone forever. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Furthermore, we shouldn’t dwell on the negative historian’s rendition of our past. He will always try to remind us of what was “true.” We must make it a habit to forget and forge ahead like Paul: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Perhaps you can accept that God chooses to forgive our sins, but you find it harder to reconcile the hurts. Where was God in those moments of hurt? Where was God when my neighbor called me the cute, fat kid? Like any parent, he has compassion for us, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him…” (Psalm 103:13). He also comforts us, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God,” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). And he knows when we’re brokenhearted and in need of healing, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3). In short, he is a good Father and has walked with us through the hurts in our lives. The enemy wants us to believe we were alone and isolated in these moments, but it simply isn’t true.
God is unchanging. He was the same in our past as He is in our present and future. He is the one who can accurately tell us the story of our past. A major part of surrendering our lives to Jesus is surrendering how the story is told of our past. We can’t call Him Lord and maintain the position of storyteller. The Father knows us best and will tell the story in a way that redeems us past our failures. That’s one of His master crafts; He turns ashes into beauty. Don’t believe Satan when he tries to play negative historian and remind you of sin and hurt in the past. Trust the one, true Historian of our lives, who laid the foundations of the world, put a plan in place to save each of us, and loves us as his sons and daughters. His version of your past is the only one that matters.
What about you? What was your “cute little fat kid” moment? Are you listening to the negative historian or the one, true Historian of your life?