Memories. A mystery of the mind. Somehow in the electrical wonderland of our brain cells and zapping of nerve synapses we are able to log away and then call to mind again people, places, events, smells, words, songs, emotions, tastes, sounds and more from our past. Might be from long ago or just five minutes ago but most of us can remember.
Some not so great memories get pushed behind others so that they only show themselves in crisis, hypnosis, or maybe when intentionally going through our mind’s files so to speak. We don’t often want to pull out the folder with negative encounters, painful losses, or misunderstandings in it. Most of us would rather reminisce about good times – pleasant memories and thoughts that make us smile or drum up warm fuzzies.
Relationships are affected by what we remember. Keeping past offenses on file can drive a wedge between people, especially if those mistakes are called to mind often and not forgiven. On the other hand, if someone has wronged me but I stop to think about my past with that person and the good things they’ve done, the loving interactions we had, the way they’ve proved their heart and character before, it helps me overlook a blunder or ouchy moment between us and keep believing in them.
Remembering can help us avoid mistakes we made before. It can bring to the forefront how blessed we are. Our nation loves to remember those who have given their lives for others and for freedom. It causes us to be grateful for what we have and not take it for granted.
What do you do to remember? Think, look at pictures, talk with friends and family, watch home movies, flip through yearbooks or scrapbooks, read old diaries and journals, visit places where you used to live or where special occasions happened? There are so many ways.
As my family and I have been going through a long time of waiting, praying and trusting, there have been times we needed to sit and purposefully remember what God’s done for us in the past so we wouldn’t lose hope. When things are quiet for so long I begin to question even God’s character and his thoughts/feelings toward us.
This past Sunday in the worship service (at a church where my husband is interim pastor for a little while) John shared during prayer time that he needed a miracle from God this week. He had just found out that this “job” is a few weeks from ending and he’s thinking about how he will provide for us after it’s over. He was a little discouraged and openly shared with the people, asking how many of them also felt they needed a miracle this week. Just about every hand was raised. At the end of his sermon, an older gentleman walked up front unexpectedly and asked if he could speak. He put his arm around John and said that he had been burdened for John for a while, not knowing exactly why. He said he loved John, “This is a good man, He’s preaching the truth, and he needs our help. He’s our brother. So, we’re going to take up an offering and help him out.” That little congregation made of people who probably don’t have much to begin with gave us a gift of over $1000. We were floored, thrilled, and overwhelmed all at once. It just so happened that one of our cars was being repaired and the cost was just over $1000. I could almost hear God saying with a big smile on his face, “How’s that for a miracle?”
Yesterday John and I realized that although we’re foreclosing on our home in Missouri where we used to live, we are still going to owe the balance of our home equity loan to the tune of about $24,000. It was a sickening, discouraging realization. My first reaction was sadness and anger, “How are we ever going to get ahead, God?! We have been trying and trying, and now so close to paying off our last unsecured loan we get smacked with this big one that will take years. The girls’ college bills, probably weddings in the future, retirement….how will we do it??” Anxiety about the pressure of finances was pressing down and closing in. Before I could sink too low into my thick, quicksand of fear and despair, I remembered what just happened on Sunday. In that moment, it was as if God reached out a branch for me to grab hold of, then pulled me up slowly to stand on dry, safe, sturdy ground. God is for us, not against us. He loves us and hasn’t forgotten us. He’s shown that so many times and just this week in such a big, tangible way! He will take care of us. He will help us. He always has. I just needed to remember. If it hadn’t been for Him, we wouldn’t have made it this far.
Since that moment yesterday, my heart has been covered with peace and praise for God. Krissy and I drove home from the drug store last night enjoying a glorious sunset – golden light piercing and sifting the clouds with even a little patch of rainbow mixed in. This morning as I woke up I couldn’t stop singing a song I know that’s based on Exodus 15. When I looked it up, it’s the song Miriam and Moses sang with the Israelites after God brought them to safety through the red sea. So many times Moses told the people to remember all that God had done for them, and remind their families, so they wouldn’t stray away and lose faith. Unfortunately, many times they forgot to remember.
Psalm 103 proclaims the same idea: “Praise the Lord…and forget not all His benefits.” Beyond the tangible needs that seem to rise up so large before us, better than all other material benefits – God has forgiven us! We belong to Him. We have hope of eternal life and being with Him forever. He promised He would never leave and I believe Him.
When in doubt, remember. When afraid, remember. When feeling alone, remember. When weary from waiting, remember. Visit the places in your past where God worked on your behalf, where he healed, provided, loved, protected, and more.
On purpose and often…remember.