Remembering to Forget

BY KATHY STRAUCH

The wound on my hand would not let me forget what happened. The crackled and blistered strip of skin was a memento of the searing pain I felt that day. For the remainder of that year, I was constantly reminded of what I had done. 

I placed a pan of brownies in the oven as a crisp fall breeze blew through the kitchen. I had just finished unpacking. It was my second year in Wisconsin for school and I was settling into my new apartment as I waited for my roommate and friends to arrive.

However, the peaceful afternoon faded as the apartment filled with smoke. As I raced to pull the pan out of the oven, I was blinded by escaping smoke. I grabbed the pan but hit my hand on something inside the oven.

I discovered the problem. As searing heat burned my hand, I found the broiler was on. By the time I had realized what had happened, it was too late. My skin was broken and blistered. Instead of a quiet afternoon in my new apartment, I landed in the office of the campus doctor. 

This wasn’t my first scar and probably won’t be my last. Marks on our skin are story tellers. Scars are a visible reminder of our past—they are a part of life. 

While some scars are visible, others are not. Guilt and shame often dig into our hearts and leave their mark. The painful aftermath of our transgressions leave us broken. Our souls become scarred and torn by sin. The wounds sin leave in our lives is a reminder—it is a reminder that we are sinners. 

The psalmist, David, knew his sin all to well. He could not forget his transgressions. Sin stood before him testifying as a witness to his evil heart.

“For I know my transgressions,

 and my sin is ever before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned

 and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:3–4)

We can kneel in confession with David and cry out with the apostle Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Our transgressions do more than just leave a little mark in remembrance of failure. They condemn us. 

Yet, there is another One, a greater One, who bears scars left by sin. 

“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” (Isaiah 49:16)

Jesus choose to bear scars. They are not accidental. He willingly took on our sin, and with it, our death. God ascribed our iniquities to Christ. He felt the full sting and pain of our iniquities. He suffered the punishment and death that our sins held against us. The hands of God were inscribed with our sin. 

We know our God by the wounds He sustained for us. 

“Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20: 26–28)

Jesus’ scars speak peace to sin scarred souls. The wounds of Christ swallow our sin. Jesus is pleased to have a doubter touch and see His scars—it was for this doubter, for every sinner, that He died. These marks are expressions of comfort that our sin has been taken away inChrist. 

His scars plead for our absolution. 

“Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!” (Psalm 25:6–7)

Scars tell stories and the scars of Christ are no different. His scars tell of a God of mercy, a God who would rather die in our place than condemn us. Our God remembers not our transgressions but His promised mercy. The scars of Christ tell of a God who walks with us, who suffers, bleeds, and dies for us. His scars tell of the death of our sins in His death. 

While the accuser may stand before us declaring us guilty because of our sins, we have another who stands before us, crucified and risen, pleading as our advocate. He is our sin-bearer and our righteousness. He has done it all. He has paid for our sin and has given us His righteousness. 

For I know my transgressions but Christ is always before me.

Kathy is a bookworm, writer, graphic designer, and coffee lover from Michigan. She enjoys reading and learning about Law and Gospel as well as the Lutheran Confessions. She also loves learning, researching, writing about, and drinking (good) coffee. Kathy is thankful for the friends who consistantly reminded her and give her a passion to communicate the message of the Gospel—Christ for you—through conversations and writing.  Hymns continue to teach her theology and she enjoys learning to play those hymns on piano. She also loves traveling, especially with her friends. 

Twitter @08Kathy