The cleanest slate

I woke up the first day of 2019 to a blanket of freshly fallen snow. What a perfect way to start the new year, with a layer of white covering over the dirty brown landscape. It brought to mind Isaiah 1:18, where the Lord says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” 

I am one of those people who love snow. I love it with an obnoxious love reserved for Midwesterners who know how to drive in it, who grew up sledding and making forts and praying earnestly for snow days. My husband (who grew up in Puerto Rico) does not love winter, but even he will admit the beauty of the clean slate of white snow, the symbolism of the covering over of a blemished world. 

In Jeremiah 31:34, the Lord tells us, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” In order to get the full importance of this statement, we need to understand something about the Hebrew word for “remember.” In English this word merely means “awareness,” or “bringing something to mind,” but the Hebrew word holds a deeper meaning; it is not simply recalling, but it includes an extra step: taking action. We see this again and again in the Old Testament. When God “remembered” Noah and those on the ark, he caused the land to dry up. When God “remembered” his people Israel in Egypt, he didn’t just recall them to mind or think about them fondly—he took action and brought them out of slavery. So when he “remembers” our sins no more, he also takes action to remove them from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Talk about a clean slate. 

You and I have trouble with that “remembering” bit. We might think we’re okay at offering forgiveness, but the extra action of forgetting is often the tricky part. Parenting has shown me that I am bad at this; if one of my kids has wronged me and then apologizes for that sin, I am quick to say, “I forgive you.” But do I actually remember that sin no more? No. I, in my own sinful human state, will too often hold a grudge against someone half my size. I’ll keep their wrongdoing in my back pocket and bring it up again later to prove another point when I need some more ammo. And this is not even an enemy who has wronged me; this is a small child who resides in my house and asks me for extra snuggles and songs at bedtime. And yet I struggle giving my child a truly clean slate.

We are often even worse at forgiving ourselves and remembering our own sins no more. Satan, aka “The Accuser,” delights in making us believe that our sins are unpardonable. But, dear Christians, we cannot out-sin grace.

If you doubt this, just look at the people the Lord chose to carry out his holy will. Moses. David. Paul. Murderers, all three. One was an adulterer, and yet the Lord called King David “a man after my own heart.” If that isn’t proof that the Lord remembers sins no more, I don’t know what is. Think of Peter standing in front of thousands on the Day of Pentecost, preaching the good news of the Savior, fully restored after a devastating denial of his Lord and friend. Jesus didn’t hold a grudge against Peter for that very personal sin against him but instead put it entirely out of his mind and used Peter to win souls for his kingdom. I say again—we cannot out-sin grace.

Oh, what joy to live in that forgiveness and grace! Our clean slate from God gives us the freedom to live as his children, wholly loved and redeemed. We are free to forgive others and to truly forgive ourselves because of his promise to remember our sins no more.

I’ll leave you with a wonderful prayer from a book we recently received. The book is called Every Moment Holy by Douglas Kaine McKelvey, and this prayer is named “A Liturgy for the First Snow.” 

O Christ, King of Snow, we bless you for bidding this blanket 
of white to cover us in holy hush,
that our hearts might be quieted
at the sight, that we might sense
the emptiness of canvas
over which your Spirit broods,
and upon which you would 
create
and recreate
our hearts in the image of the one
whose word first spoke snow into existence.
Amen.

Missy lives in Green Bay, WI, with her husband, Jon, where they own and run Copper State Brewing Company. She homeschools their four active children, oftentimes at the brewery, and they somehow keep learning in spite of her. Missy loves witty banter, adventures of all sorts, and coffee . . . lots of coffee. And Jesus . . . lots of Jesus.

 

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