A Fresh Start


Those who read my last column may remember I wrote about Michael and Matthew Clark; two brothers with leukodystrophy, a fatal disease which reverses one’s men-tal and physical abilities. Today I share the story of Jill Price, a woman whose mental ability is the complete opposite. She was born with an amazing condition called hyperthymia which allows her to remember everything with extraordinary clarity.

Price can replay special events from her past in vivid detail, both the good and the bad. Remembering the good times is wonderful, but her memories of the bad times can be extremely challenging since she never forgets her most painful mo-ments. She clearly recalls every loss, criticism, mistake, and regret. Price acknowl-edges these painful memories sometimes play over and over again in her mind.

For most of us picturing what life might be like if we remembered everything is… well unimaginable. However, scripture teaches us God has perfect knowledge which goes far beyond hyperthymesia. Many passages from the Bible speak of God’s omnisci-ence, or the fact that he knows everything. The psalmist wrote, “You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. (Psalm 139:3-4, NLT, my emphasis)

Despite God’s perfect memory, scripture also teaches us when God forgives, he also no longer considers us guilty. It is as though our sin never occurred. This is how God describes his forgiveness, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25, NIV, my emphasis)

When Kenneth Patterson described God’s perfect forgetfulness in his December 20, 2023, Our Daily Bread devotional, he pointed out that even if we perfectly remember our failures, past sins should not be our focus.

The point is since God is willing to forgive our past, why should we not be willing to forgive ourselves? God sets the perfect example when he forgives by treating us as if we have not sinned. Each of us should follow God’s example. After asking God for for-giveness, we should also let go of our past.

Paulo Coelho correctly said, “Make peace with your past so it won’t destroy your pre-sent.” We are to acknowledge our failures but not live defeated lives since God’s for-giveness comes with the offer of a fresh start. My hope is that each of us will confess our sins to him and begin 2024 with the fresh hope he offers each of us.