Our dog, Gigi, constantly surprises me because she operates on such a different plane of reality than I do. I don’t forget the wrongs others have done to me, and if our last encounter was tense I stay away. If a friend says something that I take as critical, I forgo some effort to keep in touch. My ego still runs me, to an extent, and if someone points out a mistake of mine, I feel my integrity wounded. But it is really my pride.
Gigi is different. She forgives more fully and instantly than I ever have. When I put her outside as a timeout for showing her teeth or getting on the bed, she waits at the screen door mournfully. I suspect she knows this makes my heart thump guiltily, but I hold out. When I finally do rescind her banishment and let her back in, Gigi shows no sign of grudge or personal offense. Instead, she is eager to bridge our breached bond, following me until I pet her and put her at ease.
There may be a canine psychology grid running behind the scenes, but Gigi’s ability to instantly forgive and forget, despite my overzealous militancy, is humbling. The Bible promises that God’s love is like this, too – that He forgives and forgets. Psalm 103:12 reads, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us,” and Hebrews 10:17 says, “‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.'” (NIV)
But I don’t believe it. I hold onto my guilt over something I have done and expect God to hold onto it, as well. Maybe I don’t want to be caught off guard, believing that God has forgiven when He has not. Maybe I can’t understand why I should be so easily accepted and freely loved. Maybe I liken God to myself instead of myself to God and forget that my sin and guilt sends me away – that God is not the one who banishes.
I expect Him to put me outside when I am “bad” or break a rule, but He seems to wait for me to come back and tell Him what I have done. Or maybe I would rather not admit that I have done something wrong – that someone as awesome and humble as I am could make a mistake that calls for an apology to God. But I do believe it’s worth it.
We get the incredible gift of peace and security with God when we confess what is in our hearts, but only when we also believe that He truly forgets – that He forgives like Gigi.