It was 11:21 p.m. and my cell phone rang.
Anytime the phone rings at that time of night you think the worst.
When actually, it was a friend of mine, returning my call, from earlier in the evening.
We had not seen each other in a while and we were catching up.
Then he said, “John, I have not been in church in two months. I can not walk in there, knowing my past.”
And the conversation developed from there.
Knowing his story as I do, I could tell he was hurting inside.
He even said, “I do not know what to do anymore. It gets worse and worse every day.”
I have written of his story and his childhood previously.
In this case, this person had found, at nine years old, his mother and father dying as a result of a murder / suicide.
He has shared with me all that transpired after that.
He asked me during our conversation last night, “Why me, John, why did God put this on me?”
My very spiritual answer?
“I have no idea.”
As we talked, he said something that stuck inside of me and remains in my mind.
He said, “I would like to go one day, just one day, without seeing what I saw in my mind. Just one day.”
Each of us have a past.
Maybe not all of us has a past that includes a tragic situation such as this.
But we each have memories that we hope and pray will simply go disappear.
But they don’t.
We, try as we might, work to deal with them and ask God to remove them.
But for some reason, those memories make us who we are presently.
I hate that part of it.
But I believe it to be true.
The only comforting answer I could come up with, to bring about even a temporary peace in his heart was to say this, “For whatever reason, God has given you the strength to survive this up to now. And who knows, possibly, God is going to use you to strengthen the lives of others who are also dealing with the memory of a tragic past.”
So, in this case, my friend did not cause, or could not have prevented what happened.
However, in other cases, our memory is scarred by decisions on our part that simply will not go away.
For those people, I have this verse, that in my fifties seems so much more relevant looking back.
“If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9
People unfortunately, and often God’s people, are not quick to forgive, or allow others to be cleansed.
Nor their misdeeds forgotten.
They simply often do not have the capacity to forgive and certainly not be able to forget.
It is truly hard for any of us.
But God does have the capacity to forgive and to forget.
It is in that capacity I want to learn how to love in such a way, that I can reach out to people and love them as Christ loves them.
And not remember anything about their past, except that it is forming their wonderful future.
I would like to do that, to love them that big.
I would like to be able to love them that big, one day…just one day.