What are some of your powerful memories? I’m not just talking the usual ones like baptisms, births and deaths, marriages and the like. What are some life changing moments that took you by surprise and left you reeling in despair or overwhelmed with joy? I remember the one solo tackle I got in pee wee football (caught the running back from behind before he crossed the line of scrimmage). I remember my first kiss (my braces got in the way). I remember when Lenore and I received our graduate degrees in the mail and a positive pregnancy test the same day (we celebrated at a pricey but awesome seafood buffet in Indianapolis). I remember the sick feeling in my stomach when I stood in my son’s room after dropping him off at Harding (I cried). I remember Jim Caveman, then an elder at the Northeast Church of Christ, calling and offering me the job at the church (that’s worked out pretty well).
Memories are formative. They alter our course for life. They affect the choices we make for better or for worse. They knit together a fabric of likes and dislikes, of pleasure and pain, of rewards and consequences. They form a tapestry that tells the story of who we are and helps us to determine who we are to be.
The formative nature of memory creates an imperative for Christians that demands God be a thread running through the tapestry of the past and in ever increasing measure defines and shapes the tapestry of the future.
Solomon reminds his readers to “Remember your creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say – ‘I find no pleasure in them…’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). When “the God thread” runs strong in the tapestry of your past it strengthens your ability to cope with the struggles of the future.
I write this heading into the Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. We remember those who made a difference in our lives and in many cases were willing to give their lives to protect us. It is a sobering exercise but also valuing to remember those who had a passion for us, who believed in us and told us we were of great worth. Some believed that we were worth dying for. How fitting it is for us to honor those who were willing to pay the ultimate price for friends, family and countrymen. Their sacrifice leaves a bold watermark in our tapestry, one that symbolizes the freedom we have to make our own choices and live without fear of our enemies or under the heel of an oppressive government or ideology. That honor should live well beyond the single day set aside for that purpose.
Each day, we would do well to pause to remember the sacrifice of God’s son, an icon for God’s great love for us. Though that memory erupts from writings nearly two thousand years old, its thread connects our tapestry with that of so many others since the time it happened. In each tapestry the thread bears the same message in many languages, “sinner saved by the grace of God”.
Memories are powerful.
Remember all that God has done for you.