We have a past because we have memory of that past. Events have shaped our perceptions over time. We are made in God's image. He Is omniscient, or all knowing, and he gave us a capacity in our bodies to remember to reflect His nature in a limited way as limited creatures. God's memory blesses Him. He created us this way to bless us. The fall complicated the memory capacity of man in interesting ways.
Our memories are broken.
Hurts and past faithless behavior leave a residue even after they are taken care of. The cross wiped sin from God's memory. His memory is not broken. But ours is. God made a provision for this also. It is mirrored here in Leviticus.
"And the priest shall put on his linen garment and put his linen undergarment on his body, and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and put them beside the altar. Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not go out. The priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and he shall arrange the burnt offering on it and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out." - Leviticus 6:10-13 ESV
God did not use fire to remove our sin. God used a cross. Jesus died there and our sins have been taken away as far as the east is from the west (see Ps 103:12). It is a clean transaction as far as God is concerned. We however as left with residue. Wounds, pain, memories and the results that shaped our personal history.
Put the ashes beside the altar. Change your garment (or identity) and find a clean place far from yourself and dump them there. The power of the cross must not go out. That fire must keep burning.
Our new identity can be kept separate from the residue of the old one. We change garments to deal with wounds from our childhood and every other past hurt. Wood represents our humanity. New wood goes on that fire daily and ashes are taken away daily. The sacrifice that is clean and acceptable to God becomes clean and acceptable in our experience.
Problems arise when we feed on our past. When our past is made clean it blesses us like a fragrant smell of something beautiful. We see a redemptive history of God's work not a record of our mistakes.
"He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, 'Is there not a lie in my right hand?' Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you." - Isaiah 44:20-22 ESV
Is the finished work of Christ in our right hand? Our right hand is our place of acceptance. It is what we use as our favored tool in daily life. Right handed people hold their pens, toothbrushes and car keys there.
If the ashes are not disposed of the wind will blow and they will get into everything. The rain will cake them onto our shoes and we will bring them into our homes, workplaces and everywhere we go. The ashes will mix with the atmosphere and turn pain into blame. We will have a lie in our right hand because Jesus' sacrifice will not seem clean to us even though it is clean to God.
The wood of who we are must go on the cross today. That will take care of most of the issue for us. But, then we make a reckoning about our lives that moves the ashes to a clean distant place.
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20 ESV
"My beloved speaks and says to me: 'Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.' " - Song of Songs 2:10-12 ESV
Blame is gone.
If we don't live in that cycle of ash removal we can start today. This Monday doesn't have to be bad because others were bad before. Today is a new day with new mercies. Old things have passed away. We are not who we were. The cross has dealt with that old person and we have been raised with Christ to be new, clean and full of hope.