My An Arkie's Faith column from the September 14, 2016, issue of The Mena Star
After attending a wedding in the Portland, Oregon area, my wife and I took a couple of extra days to visit the Oregon Coast. We visited Cannon Beach with its iconic Haystack Rock and then traveled up to Seaside, Oregon where we spent the night.
The next day we made some stops along the way to Astoria. As we visited various sites, I remembered a trip that we took to the same area in 1975. I enjoyed visiting the same places over 40 years later and remembering times long ago.
One place that we revisited was the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale. On the beach at Fort Stevens State Park are the remains of the Peter Iredale. At low tide, you can walk out to the shipwreck and climb on it. The beach and the shipwreck are a popular tourist destination.
On September 26, 1906, the Peter Iredale left Salina Cruz, Mexico, for Portland, Oregon, where it was to pick up a cargo of wheat. Despite heavy fog, the crew managed to safely reach the mouth of the Columbia River early in the morning of October 25. The captain of the ship, H. Lawrence, later recalled that, as they waited for a pilot, “a heavy southeast wind blew, and a strong current prevailed. Before the vessel could change course, she was in the breakers, and all efforts to keep her off were unavailing.” The Peter Iredale ran aground at Clatsop Beach, hitting so hard that three of her masts snapped from the impact. Fortunately, none of the crew were seriously injured. Captain Lawrence ordered everyone to abandon ship.
All twenty-seven crewmen made it safely to the shore. Captain Lawrence stood at attention, saluted his ship, and said, “May God bless you and may your bones bleach in these sands.”
The shipwreck became an immediate tourist attraction. The day after the ship ran ashore the Oregon Journal reported that the wreck “proved a strong attraction and in spite of the gale that was raging scores flocked to the scene of the disaster.” They noted that the Astoria & Columbia River Railroad was already planning to run excursion trains to the site. Back home in England, Captain Lawrence had to appear before the British Naval Court because of the loss of the ship.
The ship has been broken up by wind, waves, and sand over the years. It looks significantly different than it did when I first saw it over 40 years ago. Even though the shipwreck happened 110 years ago, the wreck of the Peter Iredale continues to be a popular tourist attraction.
As I walked out to the shipwreck site and took photos, I was thinking that people have been coming here to see the results of the mistakes of Captain Lawrence and the crew of the Peter Iredale for over 100 years. I'm thankful that my mistakes are not on public display as a tourist attraction.
In Isaiah 43:25 (NKJV) God says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” What a powerful idea. God has promised that when He forgives you of your sin, He will not remember it ever again. The Bible regularly uses language about the depth of God’s forgiveness for our sins. He forgets them; He removes them as far from us as the east is from the west.
Psalms 103:10-13 (NCV) tells us that, “He has not punished us as our sins should be punished; He has not repaid us for the evil we have done. As high as the sky is above the earth, so great is his love for those who respect him. He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from the west. The Lord has mercy on those who respect him, as a father has mercy on his children."
Do you worry that there are certain sins you’ll be punished for someday? Are you afraid that God just can't forgive that terrible thing that you did? Listen to the promise that the Bible gives us in 1 John 1:9 (NKJV) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God is faithful and just to forgive our sins. We just need to confess our sins, and He has promised to forgive. God wants to forgive sinners! But in the minds of many people, this thought seems too good to be true.
Gentle Reader, because Jesus died for all our sins, God promises to forgive us and never bring up our sin again. He says, “I will be merciful when they fail, and I will erase their sins and wicked acts out of My memory as though they had never existed.” Hebrews 8:12 (VOICE) I’m thankful that my mistakes are forgiven and forgotten instead of being on public display like the wreck of the Peter Iredale.