Last Saturday evening, I had the opportunity to join a reunion of sorts. It wasn’t really a full-fledged HS reunion, but several of my classmates got together for dinner – to reminisce about old times and catch up on life since graduation. Since most of us hadn’t seen each other more than once or twice since May 1998, there was quite a bit of catching up to do. All in all, it was an enjoyable evening full of laughter and happy memories, but as I sat there thinking of all those days that we spent together in school, I had to admit (at least to myself) that there are other memories, ones that we didn’t discuss over dinner, which are not so happy or enjoyable. In fact, when I think back to the young man I was in school, I realize that there were many times when I acted foolishly, when I rebelled against teachers who were trying their best to serve the Lord with very little pay, when I wounded others by my careless words and actions, when I was wounded myself by the unkindness of others. I remember the anxiety I felt over whether or not I would be accepted by my peers, and the lengths to which I was willing to go in order to win their approval. And I remember how much my own behavior at times grieved me, because I knew it was displeasing to the Lord I love. It is memories such as these which drive me back to the words of David:
Remember, O LORD, Your
tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my
youth, nor my transgressions;
According to Your mercy remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.
While the bad memories do not necessarily overshadow the good ones, they certainly make reminiscing a treacherous endeavor, but the Scriptures offer hope that all of my past can be redeemed by the mercy of God. He takes the sins of my youth and transforms them into stepping stones leading to greater usefulness in His service, because he sees me through the lens of His own goodness rather than my weakness. It was our Lord’s mercy which led him to confront Peter in John 21 – three times asking Peter if he loved Him – and Peter was heart-broken as he cried out, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Like Peter, I have failed to acknowledge my Lord out of fear and a desire for man’s approval, yet my heart cries out to the Lord, “You know that I love you!” With great tenderness, Jesus recognizes my shame and offers me hope as he places me in His service. Indeed, as I think back on my HS self, I am amazed that God has chosen to use me at all, redeeming my past by His great love and for His enduring glory, and I am unspeakably grateful that I serve a God of such mercy and kindness.