Remembering to Forget
For reading & meditation - Philippians 3
"... forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal ..." (vv. 13-14, RSV)
One more principle in relation to recovering from the brokenness caused by the memory of some dark sin: Forget it by reversing the process of remembering. Puzzled? Let me explain. Memory works like this: one revives an image of some past event, holds it in the mind for a certain length of time, and then this process is repeated until it is locked into the memory for good. Now begin to reverse that process. The matter has been forgiven by God, so don't let your mind focus on it. When it rises to the surface by itself, as it will, turn the mind away from it immediately. Have in your mind a few interesting themes "on call." Think of another and more profitable theme. I know a Christian man, involved in one of the deepest sins imaginable, who has learned to blot out unwanted memories the moment they rise to the surface by focusing his thoughts on the cross. It does not matter what the substitute image is so long as it is wholesome and can thrust the unwanted memory from your attention. Another thing you can do when the memory of your sin returns - even if it is only for a moment - is to turn your mind to prayer
. Don't pray about the sin itself - that will keep it in the memory - but pray that God will build into you love, forgiveness, peace, and poise. Images that are consciously rejected will rise less and less in your mind. When they do occur, they will occur only as fact; the emotions will no longer register a sense of burning shame.
O my Father, how can I cease thanking You for the answers You give - they are so right. Everything within me says so. Now help me to put the things I am learning into practice. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What was Nathan's message to David?
2. What does God do besides forgive?