Reflections and Memories

Today we took my car in for a service. The official agent for Chevrolet is Williams Hunt, which is now located in Fourways. It took us just over an hour to get there this morning, with peak-time traffic leg-shackled by an outage of power to robots. We ended up spending time in Cedar Square which is outside of our usual neighborhood, sustaining ourselves with breakfast after our long and tiring journey.

We sat outside a restaurant called Smoke Daddy and I was struck by the reflections in the window.

The only thing “real” in this picture is the portion of a motorbike in the bottom right corner. The rest of the picture is made up of reflections and, in some cases, reflections of reflections.

It struck me that our memories are something like this. Reflections can be distorted by the position of the light, the integrity of the glass doing the reflecting and our point of view. Likewise our memories can be distorted by our emotions, our subjective points of view and other circumstances which can magnify or reduce their importance.

On occasion, my children have recalled incidents from their childhood which I remember totally differently. I am convinced my view is the accurate one, and they are just as sure of the integrity of theirs. The truth might be neither.

God knows that our memories are just as fallible as any other part of our humanity. In various places in the Bible He exhorts us to “remember the Lord our God.” In some cases He gave His people memory aids. In Joshua 4, when Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan River, which parted for them, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.” (verse 3 ESV)

This was to be a memorial down the generations so the people would remember what God had done for them.

In the New Testament, Jesus arranged the same kind of memory aid when He instituted Holy Communion. “...the Lord Jesus on the night when 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.'” (1 Corinthians 11:23b – 24 ESV) He did the same with the cup.

Many of the Psalms have a certain structure. They start in depression or despair. Then the psalmist calls to mind what God has done for him in the past. He remembers God’s goodness and power. The Psalm ends with a strong statement of trust in the Lord.

Psalm 77 starts, “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.” Then verses 11 and 12 read, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”

If it is good enough for the psalmists, it is good enough for me. One of my memory aids is my journal. Sometimes it is encouraging just to look back and realize how God has been at work in my life. It might be an idea to take 12 smooth stones and write on each some event in my life where God was definitely involved. My stones would include how I met my husband, how God provided our cottage and how my back was healed.

My Prayer

Father God, I have a tendency to forget Your goodness to me. I know my memory is fallible. I get distracted by everyday life and even the rumours all around me. Please help me develop a habit of actively and purposely remembering Your mighty works in my life and Your many special gifts to me. Amen.

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