I am in the process of reading Billy Graham’s book, “Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well”. It is a book that has been on my reading list for some time now and last night on the plane back to Indy from Dallas, I started to read it. In fact, I found it difficult to put down and read from take-off to landing. It’s not often that something grabs me like this.
In all sincerity, it is a book that I wanted my father-in-law to read about a year ago. Janet and I both thought it would be a great read for him – after all, he and Billy were about the same age. Unfortunately, John passed away last September, before he had a chance to read Graham’s thoughts on getting older. Now my father-in-law went through some of the same stuff that Billy mentioned in his book. It was very difficult for him to stand up on his own and a wheelchair, as well as a walker, were his constant companions. The loss of energy and the loss of strength were issues that my father-in-law wrestled with on a daily basis. In fact, he was the most rational person I have ever known when it came to being able to assess his own situation and he realized that assisted living was the only real solution open to him, especially after my mother-in-law needed the care that was afforded by the people in assisted care.
Not that John was pleased with the situation. It was a difficult transition for him, as I am sure it will be for most, if not all, of us as we age. He missed the freedom of being on his own and remaining independent. While it was difficult for us, as his family, to watch his decline, it was undoubtedly much tougher on him to see his body fail him in his final months.
Oddly, I am finding comfort in reading the book. Somehow, I have a better, more intimate understanding of John’s perspective by reading what words Billy Graham has to say on the subject of aging. It was one of those subjects that John and I briefly spoke about on occasion, but I am sure his thoughts ran much deeper than he ever shared with me. And that’s as it should be – his private thoughts about aging as he was finishing the season of “nearing home”.
One of the most fascinating parts of the book occurred in the first several pages. I happened to be reading a section about remembering the events of our lives. How in the old days, it was a badge of honor to be aged and how many verses of Scripture have to do with remembering the commands of the Lord and the times of our youth. But right in the middle of the chapter, Billy threw a curve ball in. He reflected on the things that God chooses to remember; and the things that He does not remember!
To most people, this must be quite eye opening. After all, doesn’t God remember everything? Isn’t He omniscient – all knowing? The answer is a resounding, “YES”. But there is something that God chooses not to remember. And that is our forgiven sin. If we, as Christians, are repentant, we are told in the pages of Jeremiah that God forgets our sin. And that is our verse for the evening, from Jeremiah 31:33-34, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (KJV)
This whole section of Scripture tells us how God is going to deal with His people. Notice the last part of the verse for tonight – “I will remember their sin no more” – that’s God talking. Notice that God says that everyone will know about Him – from the least to the greatest and He will forget our transgressions.
That means that God will forget our sins…. Isn’t that great? He chooses to not only forgive, but to not remember. My encouragement this evening is that each of us needs to hone our skills about forgiving others – and forgetting their transgressions as well. My prayer is that you will consider this type of action, especially as we age. Because the day will come, if we live long enough, that we will evolve in our faith and our value system will change – the things we focus on will take on greater importance as each of us gets “nearer to home”. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…