I was about to get on an elevator when she called me crying. I stepped to the side, “What’s going on?”
“It’s not a sad cry, it’s a happy cry.” She quickly told me before I panicked.
And then the sobs kept coming. Deep. Heartfelt.
“What is it?” I said gently. “What?”
My dear friend finally paused and said in a shaky voice, “I’m done. It’s done. My records are sealed.”
Tears immediately sprang to my eyes. This was huge. This precious human had made a monstrous mistake – in a time of desperation and fear, she’d stolen from a company she loved. She was caught. She was arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail. She spent the coming months deeply ashamed, regretting her decision and wishing she could take it back. The courts gave her that opportunity – but she would have to complete hours upon hours of community service, pay the company back, plus interest, and follow multiple courses on ethics.
She did that and then she took it a step further. She sat down with her immediate and extended family and confessed what she’d done. Tears fell every time as person after person wrapped their arms around her. The common theme of their response? Everyone makes bad decisions. You can’t change what happened, but you can go forward, make it right and live differently from now on. We love you.
But now? “Elsa,” she said, “I stood before the judge and the DA. They agreed to seal the records. They told me it’s as if it never happened. As if it never happened!”
Her sobs again, and this time tears flowed down my own cheeks as well.
As if it never happened.
As I celebrated with her, what immediately came to mind was my own sealed record. My faith journey. That simply by choosing to believe what Jesus did for me, giving my life to him, living for him – he wiped it all clean.
Lying to my parents all those years.
Pilfering cigarettes… and smoking them.
Stowing away on trains.
Graffiti (It’s true. I have a dark past.)
Eloping and telling no one.
Going through a divorce.
Breaking hearts – my parents, my family, my friends.
And just last week – getting grumpy with a child, the little white lie, eating too much, the foolish things I can still do on an every-single-day basis.
And then. Asking Jesus for forgiveness and realizing he completely wipes it away. It’s gone. Done. As if it never even happened.
I should be sobbing like that sweet friend every day. From gratitude, from the hope that he gives to me. From the life and joy and family and love I get to experience every day because his forgiveness is so freeing, so… perfect.
And I’m not the only one. This is for you. For anything in your history you still carry with shame. Anything from yesterday that still haunts you. Anything at all, as you bring it to him, he wipes it away. He loves you. He wants you free!
Of course there are consequences and we have to see those through – do the right thing – walk away from stupid. But as far as how God sees us? How we should see ourselves? How we should walk forward with our head and heart held high?
That’s where we stand free.
As if it never happened.
Now that’s sob-worthy.
Pslam 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Isaiah 43:25 I, even I am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.