Walking towards the Light from the cross of a King

A blog by Josh Humbert

Forgiven….not Forgotten


“If we’ve all forgotten You, are we all forgotten too?”
Paper Route—Are We All Forgotten

The following three stories are all true.

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The other day, I watched as my 5-month old son was crawling and rolling around on the ground in the living room. He is just learning how to crawl and move himself and it’s actually quite comical to watch him do his thing.

From the kitchen, I watched in surprise as lil’ Caleb made his way over to the bag that held his old diapers and trash. OH NO! “Little buddy, you don’t want THAT,” I told him as I ran over to stop him.

I moved him back to the other side of the living room and was astonished that Caleb quickly crawled and rolled right back to that bag of old diapers. Every time I moved him away, he would turn and go right back. Why was he fascinated by a bag of used diapers and trash? Why did he keep going back to this junk? How…. disgusting!

Immediately, it dawned on me how God must see my life on some days. Now, of course, I don’t go crawling after bags of diapers and trash, but……in a real sense, why am I fascinated by the stuff of this world when my Father is standing by? Why would I leave intimacy and purpose with Him for sinful ways that really only lead to heartache and pain?

Why do I go back to junk? Why do I forget the truth and chase the lie?

Why do I forget what’s real, meaningful, good, and true only to chase the deceptive, vain, empty, and false things of this world?

Deuteronomy 4:23 “So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you…”

Psalm 103:2 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

Psalm 119:16 “I will delight myself in Thy statutes: I will not forget Your word.”

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“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time…”
That’s Jonah 3:1 and in those 12 words, I find great hope and encouragement. Not the superficial or mistaken concept of “hope” that many in today’s world have. That is the hope that is placed vainly in a person, a relationship, a feeling, money, security, self, or anything else. That “hope” will disappoint for sure.

The hope I find in that verse is a deep and resounding confidence in God’s goodness and mercy. That is where real hope is found and rightly placed.

At 1136, a college/20-something’s ministry where I speak, we recently wrapped up a late-summer series on Jonah. As I studied and prepared, this verse was one of the essential truths I felt God was putting on my heart to speak about.

Can I set the scene for Jonah 3 real quick? Give me three short paragraphs.

In Jonah 1, God gives some explicit and clear directions for Jonah to follow: go preach to Nineveh. Jonah rejects the mission and goes the exact opposite way, trying to escape God’s calling on his life.

God sends a great storm and the boat Jonah is riding away on is in grave danger. Jonah is tossed overboard and swallowed by a great fish, where he will spend the next 3 days.

During this time, Jonah repents. That is to say, Jonah wants to quit running from God. He changes direction and now desires to follow God. Jonah 2 is his prayer of repentance to the Lord. At the end of Jonah’s prayer, God causes the fish to spit Jonah out on the shore.

That’s where Jonah 3 picks up with that opening line, “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time…”

What hits me about that verse is God’s willingness to give Jonah a second chance. Jonah isn’t spit out onto the shore and then sent down to the minor leagues or the JV team. Jonah isn’t banished from sharing the Gospel. Jonah isn’t abandoned by God.

God doesn’t forget Jonah.

In fact, Jonah’s purpose is renewed. God restores Jonah’s calling. Jonah is put back on mission for the Kingdom.

That’s huge.

God sees Jonah’s heart of repentance and forgives his sins. Then, through His endless mercy, God restores Jonah to his prophetic role. His word comes a “second time.”

A second time. A second chance. A new day.

An opportunity to do things right.

A time to start again.

A new direction to take.

His word comes a SECOND TIME.

Ever wandered if there was a second chance (or third, or fourth, etc) for you?

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My 3-year old nephew, Trace, and his friend were updating his mom on what he learned in Sunday School just the other day.

“What did you learn, Trace?”
“Jesus forgets me.”
“What?”
Trace repeated it once more, “Jesus forgets me.”

Thankfully, Trace’s friend corrected his simple mistake and said, “No, we learned that Jesus FORGIVES us, not forgets us.”

One word changes the entire meaning of that sentence and sometimes, I fear, we believe that Trace’s version is the true one.

Jesus forgot about us, right? He has moved onto more important matters and thoughts of you and I have escaped Him at the moment.

He forgot us, didn’t He?

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So….where do these stories lead? I think it goes something like this:

You don’t have to go back to the trash bag anymore. You don’t have to keep going in the wrong direction and forsaking the delight of Father God. It’s not too late and you aren’t too far-gone.

You can repent. You can change your way. You can hit your knees, like Jonah does in the belly of that great fish, and call out to God. You can honestly confess your sins and have them forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ; Who lovingly paid the price for ALL your sins on the Cross.

He is watching and waiting. Will you rise and go to Him? Will you repent?

A. W. Tozer wrote that…
“God will take nine steps toward us, but He will not take the tenth. He will incline us to repent, but He cannot do our repenting for us.”

Is that bag of trash and waste better than knowing the love of God? You must decide.

If you turn to Him, you will be Forgiven, not forgotten.

In Isaiah 44:21-22, God says: “Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant, O Israel, you WILL NOT be forgotten by Me. I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”

Forgiveness awaits those who truly repent. Restoration is what God does. He has second chances for those that love Him.

And you are not worthless to Him.

He still has a purpose and meaning for your life. If you’ve messed up and feel useless and damaged, His mercy will redeem you. He can and will use you to spread His fame and Gospel.

He can and will restore you to something real. You aren’t relegated to the bench.

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Let me finish with one last thought.

Yes, you can be forgiven. Yes, you can be given a purpose or even a second chance at the purpose you left behind. Yes, you are not forgotten by God.

But…..you know what God does forget? Do you know what He no longer remembers?

All the sin you honestly confess and bring to the foot of the Cross.

When you change direction and start pursuing Him, God lovingly chooses to forget all the times you kept crawling back to the junk.

Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am the One who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

Jeremiah 31:34 “…for I (God) will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

You are not forgotten………but your sin is. Kind of amazing, really.

If all the above is unclear or disjointed……just remember this:

Through Jesus on the Cross and the empty tomb, God stands ready to forgive and restore those who have forgotten Him. In Him, there are second chances.

Hear that today. Hear it and know it.

Hear it, and remember it.

As always, love to get your comments/messages/and insights. Please feel free to respond.
Thanks for reading.

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This entry was posted on September 30, 2009 by in Blogroll and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

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