If I could give you a piece of unsolicited advice, it would be this—Don’t forget when people die.
Especially if you spoke at their funerals . . .
The other day, a woman found me at a conference and said, “Pastor Mike, you don’t know me, but I was a friend of Rachel Smith.” (Name changed to spare me further embarrassment.) For some reason, I didn’t catch the past tense of the verb was, so I smiled and was .02 seconds from saying, “Oh! And how is Rachel?”
Thankfully, the woman beat me to the next sentence: “Pastor, I will never forget the beautiful words you spoke at Rachel’s funeral.”
Oh. My. Goodness. I am not sure what my expression looked like from that woman’s perspective, but my mind was utterly mortified at my forgetfulness. A pastor who can’t even remember the funeral of one of God’s beloved daughters?!
Have you ever done anything that embarrassing? Maybe it was an honest mistake that makes you shake your head and smile. Or maybe it was a sinful moment that you still can’t believe you did.
Maybe it was the way you totally lost it on your kids in the grocery store, only to look up and see someone from church, stopped in her tracks and staring.
Maybe it was the text you sent in the spur of the moment and were horrified to read the next morning when your emotions had stabilized.
Maybe it was getting caught in a compromising situation with your girlfriend, the details of which spread through the school hallways like wildfire.
Maybe it was seeing someone you knew at your bachelor party strip club stop.
Maybe it was the ugly parts of your divorce that your ex shared with his family to cope with his pain.
Maybe it was the time you drank too much and forgot to filter your words in front of your coworkers or your kids.
Maybe it was a Facebook post that was the opposite of humble, kind, gentle, and Christ-like that you typed without thought or prayer.
All of us have embarrassed ourselves. It’s a sad part of life in a messed-up world. As one of my college profs used to say, “You will sit awake at night when you’re 40 thinking about the things you did when you were 20.”
I’m only 37, but I know exactly what he means. Don’t you?
Which is why I want to share a part of the Bible that is medicine for the embarrassed soul. Psalm 25:7 says, “[O Lord,] do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways.”
What a prayer! David, the author of this verse, is asking God (maybe even commanding God?) to not remember the embarrassing, sinful stuff from his past. “God, forget my lust! Forget my lies! Forget my sins!”
David then begs, “According to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good.”
How can you not love those words? “God, when you remember me, line up your thoughts with your love. Your unfailing love. Your unconditional love. Your unstoppable love. Your at-the-cross love. Your sin-erasing love. Your past-forgetting love. That kind of love is what I need you to think about when you think about me, O God.”
And Jesus died to make sure that is exactly what your Father thinks.
As we look back on our lives, we might remember those sinful, shameful, or embarrassing moments. But then we remember that Jesus ensured that our Father would remember them no more.
So don’t dwell a minute more on your failures. Don’t see yourself as an embarrassment. Instead, think about what’s pure and right and holy and good and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
Think about Jesus. Because Jesus thinks about you according to his love.
Pastor Mike Novotny has served God’s people in full-time ministry since 2007 as a pastor in Madison and now Appleton, Wisconsin. He also serves as a host and speaker for the Time of Grace television program and contributes to the written resources of Time of Grace Ministry. Pastor Mike is married to Kim and has two daughters.
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