At a recent funeral I officiated for, a professor from Ball State came to me after the service. He commented that he heard me say several times in my message the importance for remembering the good things about the person more so than the sadness of their death. He then went on to tell me, “In my class, I teach each of my students the importance of putting to memory all the good things they can remember about people who have died while they can remember because once you forget them, they’re gone forever.” After we parted from one another, I wrote down his comment about memories. I compared it to what I spoke on and saw the importance of engraving memories in our minds AND hearts in order to never forget the important things about people and experiences we wish to cherish forever.
Reviewing my funeral message, I realized that I had stated the importance for preserving the memory of the departed several times and how I tried to assist my hearers to focus on the positive aspects of the person; the life-lessons taught, the laughter they gave us, the stories they shared, and the way they have blessed us. And as I reviewed the sermon, the professor’s words began to speak louder. I began to reflect back on several of the losses in my life. What could I remember? Did it come easy or was it difficult to bring to mind? I remember watching a movie (but I can’t recall the movie), but in it was a scene I will never forget: a man who had lost his wife to death several years earlier was sitting on his bed crying. Another person entered the room and asked what was wrong. As he held onto a personal belonging of his wife, he sobbed, “I can’t remember what she smelled like! I’m having trouble remembering what she looks like; the way she smiled at me or the sparkle in her eyes. They are blurred and I’m afraid to lose that!” That has been my biggest fear for my loved ones!
In the same way, I also fear this about God. The more time away from Him we spend, the more His image fades and we start to lose our ability to recall the blessing He truly is to us. Sure, we can remember some of the stories He wrote in the Bible; but can we remember what those stories mean to us and how they impacted our lives/ Are we able to reminisce the ways God brought us through the various trials and tribulations we faced? Can we reflect on the healing which took place because of His good will for us? And especially during the lonely and hard times in our lives, can we remember how He never left us but brought us closer to Him?
If we fear losing our memories about people and/or God, it would do us good to engrave their special memories to ours. Memorize on purpose those things we want to recall at any given moment. Recite them over and over again until we have carved them in the stone of our mind. Take pictures and write on the back the story attached to it (or if you are digital, type the story next to it). And as for God, His Word, His impact on our lives, review it daily, pray often, have a mercy journal/prayer journal and reflect on when and how He answered prayers or granted you mercies. Write stories down and life-lessons others have taught you. Even go as far as to make videos of those you love; and try to get in the videos also! Preserving memories will prove to be something which makes you instinctually become more intimate with those you love. And if you can do this with God and the relationship you share, all the more better! There are many ways to preserve memories, but to forget them there is only one way; to do nothing.
Engrave the memories you cherish and see the joy they will bring you in years to come!
Father God, Thank You for placing people in our lives which help creates precious memories for us. Help us all to engrave these memories to our hearts and minds. Allow the same for our ability to remember Your mercies and grace. Also allow us to engrave Your Word into our memories so we may recall what we have to look forward to as well as what Your Word teaches us. Thank You for who You are; a God who sees our needs and blesses us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.