Finding a Way to Remember (repost)

“I didn’t think someone could forget so much so fast without a severe blow to the head.” 

I couldn’t resist a favorite quotation from The Man Who Knew Too Little (Warner Bros., 1997). I laugh every time I hear Peter Gallagher say it, but I also am a bit embarrassed.

See, I’ve had my share of blows to the head. Perhaps I’ve just not been properly trained in being aware of my surroundings. Nonetheless, I don’t think I can pass off all my forgetfulness on times when I’ve slammed my head into closing doors or the like.

We all have a tendency to forget.

Some people can seem to remember more than others. At times, we meet people who have a “selective memory.” It’s a struggle today as much as it’s been throughout human history.

A search through the NIV shows the word “remember” more than 160 times. That doesn’t take into account the times when the Bible tells us not to forget or reminds us of what has been forgotten. Even the most important things slip our minds all too often.

After 40 years in the wilderness, the people of God are warned to “take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments.” “You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deut. 8:11, 18, ESV).

How could they possibly forget 40 years in the wilderness?

But they did, and so do we.

Spiritually speaking, we work hard in the springtime and enjoy the rest of summer. When fall comes, we celebrate the blessings and bounty with little thought for the winter that awaits. Yet, our spiritual winters can still be filled in hope if we store up in fall and reflect upon the memories of the great things God has done.

So how can we prepare ourselves for the seasons to come?

We must find a way to remember.

I’ve experimented with several ways of remembering. Some have helped more than others, but perhaps a few thoughts can spark our minds and continued conversation.

  • Write. Find a way that works for you. You might start a blog or pick up a journal. If you can write something every day, great. If not, try once per week. Start small, and build upon the early successes as you establish a discipline of writing. These will be memories to which you can turn when needing a sense of hope during the trials of life.
  • Take pictures. It’s amazing how much of my life comes rushing back into my mind as I view pictures I’ve taken of my family. I’m amazed at how much we’ve experienced, and I’m humbled by the way God has blessed and grown us. You might create a slideshow, video or scrapbook. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something to which you can easily come back.
  • Tell stories. My girls love me telling them stories. There are certain ones that they want to hear over and over again. They have some of my life experiences memorized and could retell the story to another who would ask. Telling stories doesn’t just help those who hear it; the stories reinforce the memory in the teller.
  • Create Traditions. If God has used an event or experience to do a work of transformation in your life or the life of your family, consider starting a new tradition or celebration to mark the spiritual moment on a regular basis.

As you develop the discipline of remembering, you can become more intentional about writing, taking pictures or telling stories that may bring greater focus to the work of Christ in your life.

As Deborah Kerr said in An Affair to Remember, “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories” (Twentieth Century Fox, 1957). But may the severe blows of winter not leave us forgetful. Rather, may we prepare in our spiritual fall that we may have many layers of memories of God’s grace to keep us warm and be filled with the hope of grace yet to come.

What are some ways you remember God’s work in your life? Take time to encourage one another with your ideas, and share your stories with loved ones this Thanksgiving.

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