I remember well the day back in 92 when I came into the New York airport, along with the other members of a tour group, from a trip to the Holy Land. There was the usual hassle of going through customs. When we left Israel they had done a thorough search of my luggage. I had locked my suitcase but did not remember what happened to the key. Now, I was more than a little tense because I was going to have to deal with the baggage checkers again with the lame excuse of, “I lost the key”. They can be very stern and intimidating which is good because we don’t want terrorists slipping into our country. This was just the kind of excuse that might be made by one.
That would have been so embarrassing to see a member of a church tour group being a terrorist suspect. It seems humorous now but then it certainly was not.
However, I would not be able to open it for them. I had searched my pockets and purse but the key was nowhere to be found. Just ahead of me they had allowed some people to pass on through. They were random searching because there was such a crowd. I started to follow the group but a very stern looking clerk ordered me to get back in line. They were for sure going to search my suitcase. It was a very tense moment.
He took my tote bag and asked me if I was bringing any food into the country. I said no. I forgot again that I had some snack food in it which I intended to eat later. He said, well then what is this? Then I was sure I was in trouble. When I explained that we had been served snacks on the plane he asked, “Who is we”? You know, for an American customs agent he didn’t speak very good English. Who is we??? As I laughingly think back, I should have said, well, I know who I am. Don’t you know who you are? However I was too intimidated at that moment.
Wouldn’t it be neat if our brain could click on Google and the search engine would refresh our memories in a flash? Ah, memories are good but they often remind us of our inconsistencies. Memories remind us of times of frustration, discouragement or grief but they also help us remember the joyful, pleasant and productive experiences that have shaped our lives.
Actually we could say memories are what keep life interesting. They hold the past and the present in prospective. They can bring joy and laughter or tears and regret.
Is there a difference between saying, I forgot and I don’t remember?
Webster says to forget is to lose the memory of. Memory is the ability to recall. If the clerk had asked me for the key, I would have had to say,” my memory does not have the ability to recall what I did with it”. That would have been a good way to make myself a suspect. They would have broken the lock to see what I was hiding.
I am amazed to learn that our memories are fixed. We can never really forget anything. All that we have ever read, studied, seen or heard is stored in our memory and kept on hold to be flashed on the screen of remembrance at the appropriate time, even without Google. It is amazing how we sometimes say, “I forgot”, only to say later, “oh yes, I remember it now”. If we had no memory our lives would be impossible.
This situation was not a case of forgetting, it was carelessness. When we say we don’t remember that is incorrect. We have just filed it in our brain carelessly and now when we push the recall button nothing comes up. We have the disease of trying to think of and do too many things all at once.
Everyone forgets now and then. Even God forgets. Yes he does! He does it on purpose just for us. It is not called forgetting, it is called not remembering. He said if we would confess our sins he would forgive and cleanse us. Then he said, I will remember them no more forever. Wow! There are some things in my life I would be happy to never remember again forever.
The exciting thing about God’s “not remembering” is that it was the only way we could have salvation. God could not forgive or forget our sin if it were not for the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because he died, our confessed sins can find no place in God’s memory. Isn’t that great!
The key to my suitcase has never been found. The key to salvation has never been lost. That key is called Faith in the risen Christ. There we can find relief from the stress of remembering sins that we would like to forget. Put your trust in the Savior and his power to forgive and forget.
Embarrassment was avoided that day at the airport when the baggage inspector believed my declaration. He told me I could go on through without my luggage being checked. The release of tension never felt so good.
I wonder where that key is.
Carolyn [email protected]