By Reba Phelps
During the late 1980s, my parents decided to relocate our family from the metropolis of Natchitoches to the rolling hills and salt mines of Goldonna. If you were at all familiar with technology and communications during this time you will know that it simply did not exist. We traded in our numbered housing for a Rural Route, white framed house, that was best described as, “About two miles past Mr. Pete’s store on the left and right before you get to the Loop Road.
We moved there just as the “Party Line” days were ending and you only needed to dial four digits to reach someone’s house phone. There was no social media and the only way to keep up with my small tribe of friends was to call Long Distance. Unbeknownst to me, Long Distance cost a lot of money and that was one thing my family was short on.
When the first BellSouth bill arrived, a family meeting was scheduled. Every child was called in and presented with the evidence. Pages upon pages that detailed misdemeanors. Each phone number that was called, the cities in which they were housed, and the number of minutes spent on said phone call was all there. In black and white. Being the middle child and the most street smart child in the home, I knew better than to plead guilty immediately. I needed to wait and see if any of the other siblings took the blame for their calls.
Luck was not on my side this day. Not one sibling of mine called one friend outside of the Goldonna City limits. How could this be? ALL of these calls were mine? This itemized list of sins cost me four weeks without phone privileges and not one red cent of allowance. I would love to report this was a one-and-done sin and that I learned my lesson.
That was not the case.
The fact of the matter is, we held this same family meeting for years without fail every single month. I was the perpetual abuser of phone privileges and dreaded when the phone bill arrived with the itemized misdemeanors. The punishment grew more severe with each passing month and I always tried to obey but I just really enjoyed talking to my pals from town. Even in the months where my long distance calls were few, I was still pegged as the perpetrator.
The madness finally stopped when phone companies introduced “Circle Dialing”. Even though the phone bills decreased it was almost as if my parents were not forgiving me for my crimes and constantly reminding me every time they saw a phone in my hand.
My parents were Bible believing people but they also were firm believers that the many scriptures about forgiving other’s transgressions did not apply to juvenile repeat offenders. They were less than impressed when I reminded them that they should forgive seventy times seven times. I am pretty sure I was grounded four hundred and ninety days for that one comment. Most of my youth was spent grounded for some reason or another. This was nothing new.
Forgive and forget were not in their vocabulary.
How blessed are we that we serve a God that does not keep an itemized list of our high crimes and misdemeanors? We serve a forgiving, loving and compassionate God. He shows grace and mercy even when we do not deserve it. Once we ask for forgiveness of our sins, he remembers them no more. Being a follower of Christ does not give you the freedom to go and sin as you wish, it only promises new mercies every morning.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteous”.
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake and I will not remember your sins.”