This past Thursday, I headed to Memphis to join a friend for a charity golf tournament. The typical, random ‘thoughts-while-I’m-driving’ were floating around in my head until I got about forty miles from Memphis. I was suddenly consumed with the memory of driving down this same interstate exactly two years ago this week.
My sister had been very ill for several weeks. The family had kept in close communication with updates about changes in her health. After several days of little to no progress, I decided to go see her, despite the fact that she was so sedated, she most likely wouldn’t know I was there. As I was approaching Memphis, the late afternoon October sun hitting me in the face, I received a call from my brother saying she was not doing well at all, and he didn’t know how much longer she had.
My heart started racing as I sat trapped on I-40 West, stuck in the heavy, afternoon traffic, trying not to beat myself up for not going sooner. I finally got off the highway in an effort to find a quicker route and had just merged back on when my other brother called. She was gone. My heart sank and I could feel the pain rise up from the bottom of my soul.
As I approach that same intersection this Thursday afternoon, that scene and those events from two years earlier wash over me as if it had all just happened last week. And although I made it to my friend’s house and had a lovely evening of reconnecting and a beautiful day on the golf course, that painful memory lingered. It was a bitter-sweet reminder of the blessing and sometimes curse that our memories can be.
The curse of our memories is that they have the potential to enslave us to our past. If not channeled correctly, our memories will haunt us with our sins, mistakes, and failures. If we grant them the power, they can weaken and destroy us.
The blessing of our memories is that they can remind us of people, places, and events that have played a part in transforming us forever into who we are as God’s children.
When I remember that drive to Memphis two years ago, I am reminded of the unfathomable gift my sister was (and still is) to her husband, children, grandchildren, to me, my siblings, our families, and the multitude of other people who were fortunate enough to have their lives intersect with hers. There are few, if any, blessings that can ever compare with the memory I cherish of my sister.
I believe God has given us our memory as an opportunity to learn from our past and to remind us of who He is and how much He wants to be actively involved in our lives.
The rainbow is one example of a gift God has given us that serves as a reminder of His nature and love for us. It’s a rare and beautiful opportunity to take pause and reflect on His love and the magic that is all around us.
I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.” (Genesis 9:15-17, NIV)
Communion is another sacred gift God has provided to cultivate a relationship with us through his Son, Jesus, giving us an opportunity to regularly pause, reflect and express our gratitude for His amazing love.
For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22:18-20, NIV)
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25, NIV)
The drive to Memphis will always remind me of a very sad October afternoon. But it will also always provide an opportunity to remember a wonderful lady who powerfully influenced my life. A rainbow can create a pause in my day that reminds me of how, from the very beginning, God has been by my side and is always doing good in my life. Even the simple act of eating and drinking creates an opportunity to remember that with God in my life, there is hope that is real, there is joy that is real, and there is peace that is real.
For me, it is a drive to Memphis. For you, it may be a song, a picture or letter, a piece of jewelry, or family tradition that serves as a reminder that God has been and always will be with you.
So this week, here is my gift to you – a reminder to take a moment when the opportunity presents itself, to remember, reflect and enjoy the gift of a memory.
A Norvell Note © Copyright 2017 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved