I have spent the day in a hospital room with family who are beginning to rally around the bedside of a loved one who is standing on the threshold of Glory. At one point in the day after some difficult decisions had to be made we began to recall past escapades. Along with the memories came laughter and tears. At one point I glanced over at Stella who was laying quietly in the bed with her eyes closed listening to us and I think she was enjoying our memories. In her present state I don’t think she could recall much on her own but by listening to us I hope she was able to get a sense of the depth of love we have for her.
Thinking about memories my mind immediately went to the old gospel song, Precious Memories which kept playing over and over in my mind this evening. Here is one of my favorite arrangements:
Memory is one of the most precious possessions given us by God. The power to remember is the thread which binds together the events of our lives. It ties the years together and makes of them one continuous whole. Someone has said that it is “memory that makes today the total of all our yesterdays.” And it is the our ability to remember that makes possible all learning and all personal and spiritual growth.
Elie Wiesel has written: “Memory is an exalted way of seeing one’s life in its totality, it is not a morbid thing.” There is more power in memory than we realize. There are events in our lives that we deem memorable so we mark them with a physical item like souvenirs. I still have a small bottle of sand from a visit to Bermuda and each time I see it I recall my time there. This marking of an event is Biblical; recall how Samuel placed a large stone where all could see and publicly dedicated it as a monument to God’s help, God’s faithfulness, God’s eternal covenant. And as the people got on with their lives, the stone stood there, visible to all who passed that way, a visible reminder.
As a teenager I remember reading Steinbeck’s powerful novel, Grapes of Wrath which chronicles the struggles of the Joad family as they leave their home in Oklahoma to find work in California. As they are preparing to leave they are trying to determine which items to take and which items to leave behind. Space is limited. They ponder: “How can we live without our lives? How will we know its us without our past?”
We are so quick to forget; that’s why markers become important and necessary. For the child of God, each Sunday is really a kind of ‘memory’ day—a day to remind us of God’s love and kindness to us.
In Psalm 103, David calls upon us not to forget those things that we have received from God:
(1) forgiveness of sin (vs.3)
(2) healing of diseases (vs.3)
(3) redemption (vs.4)
(4) love (vs.4)
(5) compassion (vs.4,8)
(6) inner satisfaction (vs.5)
(7) righteousness (vs.6)
(8) justice (vs.6)
(9) revelation (vs.7)
How awesome the memories of what God has done for us in creating us and giving us a purpose in life; the memories of what Jesus did for us by entering into human history and taking our sins on himself on the cross; the memories of parents and friends who nurtured us in the faith; these are the memories help us find the direction in which we need to be headed as we move into the future.
“God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.” (James M. Barrie) While it was not a December day, God certainly gave me roses today as I shared precious memories with my family.