Memory triggers transport us back in time: an old song, a familiar voice on the phone, going home, driving by a hometown school, revisiting a church attended in our youth. These are only a few moving memory motivators that are likely to return us to nostalgic days of yesteryear.
The Psalmist declared that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and our ability to remember may be one of the clearest evidences of the accuracy of his conclusion. Memory provides an ever growing mental file of information that leads to inventions and technological breakthroughs that keep astounding each succeeding generation. It is also the fountain from which family and national history flows, causing us to relive pleasant times with loved ones, the feelings of sadness over those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom and the joyous news of battles ending so military heroes can come home in victory and peace.
Some noted people have had special places to which they have returned to remember past blessings and refresh their faith. Jacob, the patriarch, returned to Bethel, a place where he had met God in a special way and made promises to him.
A church once known for its good work, faithful service to God and patience during tough times fell into decline. Services became mechanical and love was lacking. During this discouraging period, the congregation was told to remember how good things had been in the past, to change directions and get back to basics. Memory was to be the means of bringing this dying church back to life: the members were to return to their former love for God and each other (Revelation 2:4-5).
While memory moves some to return to productive faith-filled living, it drives others to despair. Memory can be a wonderful friend or a destructive enemy, helping some and haunting others. What can we do about memories that take away the joy of living?
I suggest a frequent visit to Psalm103 to focus on its announcement of total forgiveness for past failures. Summing up the freedom he had found, the Psalmist wrote, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
No cosmic computer holds any record against those who’ve responded in faith to the offer of full forgiveness through God’s amazing grace.