Not even the dark clouds and gusts of the icy wind outside seemed as bleak and cold as my heart. As I pulled a saucepan from the cupboard, measured water and dried beans into it, and turned on the stove, my mind wandered, retracing the events of the previous weeks and months.

Two hours later, a sudden whiff carried down the hall caught my attention: smoke! I ran to the kitchen. Black clouds billowed, and the saucepan lid was rattling under the pressure. I quickly turned off the stove, grabbed the saucepan, put it in the sink, and turned on the faucet. Water sizzled as I lifted the lid.

The entire pan had been burnt coal black, and there was nothing left of the dried beans but a smoldering melted lump. Even the lid had been charred. I’d burnt many pots before, but never so badly. It’s ruined! I thought. There’s no hope in trying to scrub it.

Standing there surrounded by the smoke and steam, I couldn’t help seeing a resemblance to my life at the time: a burnt, blackened mess. It’s ruined! There’s no hope in trying to fix it.

As I sank into bed that night, my thoughts reached out to Jesus. I love you, Jesus whispered back, and I always will, no matter what you have or haven’t done. Together, we can always start anew.

My burnt saucepan became an inspiration, giving me courage when the feelings of condemnation threatened to recapture me. I spent hours scrubbing it with scouring powder, and the coal black slowly gave way to gray, then tan, then finally its original silver. As the specks of silver expanded, my faith to persevere on the climb toward inner healing was bolstered. At last, I held a sparkling silver saucepan, cleansed of every spot of black.

I learned that when God forgives He not only forgets, but He also heals. His undying love gives us courage to get up from where we’ve fallen, faith to let go of our past, and hope to walk forward into the future.