Summary: We remember what matters to us. God asks us to remember what He has done for us, but our attachment to money competes with that memory. We need to remember what God has done among us and that His mission is for all to experience it. That will loosen ou
Memory is a very tricky thing. You never know what you will remember and what you will forget. The other day one of my friends told me if he is in a group and he is asked to introduce the members of the group, by the time he gets halfway around the room he is forgetting the names of people he knows very well. Why, he said, the last time that happened, I got to where my wife was sitting and I couldn’t even call her name.
That’s never happened to me, has it, Martha?
Memory is a very tricky business. For some reason it is highly selective. That is, there are some items you can remember very well, and others that never stick. I cannot begin to explain why, but I can remember numbers. Just abstract numbers.
I know the numbers on all our business accounts; I know that at Sears we are 5450932848171 and that at Sovran Bank we are 3930676. Don’t get out on the edge of your seat, because I am not going to recite the number that accesses the automatic teller!
Why I remember numbers I don’t really know. It is not all that useful that I can recall all the phone numbers I’ve answered, back to childhood, when we were Highland 1421W. It does help that if I need the deacon chairman I already know 829-7170 or that if I want the moderator I don’t have to look up 723-1025 or that when tenants wonder about the houses I can give them 882-2615. But most of the numbers running around in my head are just taking up space; I’d like to be able to follow the genius Albert Einstein, who is supposed to have said that he didn’t bother with learning things like two plus two that he could look up or get somebody else to do for him!
I say, I can remember numbers, for some peculiar reason. But ask me to go back to my office and get something, and by the time I get there, I will have forgotten what you asked for! Ask me what I preached about last Sunday, and, even though I expect you to remember it, I will stumble and struggle and may not remember!
Memory is a tricky business. What we remember and what we forget seem to have neither rhyme nor reason. Or do they? Or do they?
I said I can remember numbers. I told you that I can recall all sorts of abstract figures. Well, it’s my experience that many of us can remember particular kinds of numbers -- the kind that are associated with dollars, with money. We can remember how much we are earning; we can remember how much some prized possession cost. We can remember what’s left in our bank accounts, and we can recall perfectly our monthly mortgage bills or rent bills.
Why? Why do these numbers stick in our memories? Why is it we are so conscious and alert about our financial facts and figures?
I think it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? These things represent the critical facts of everyday survival. These numbers represent whether we are going to make it or not. These numbers, these bank account numbers and pocketbook numbers, tell us whether we can pay the bills and whether we can survive. And so they stay with us. You will remember the things you need to remember to survive. You will remember the things you must remember in order to keep on going.
In other words, the memory strings are tied to the purse strings. The memory strings pull the purse strings and keep you aware of what’s happening with your money.
In the scriptures, God is constantly asking us to remember. Primarily, He asks us to remember what He has done for us. He calls on us to recall what He did in bringing Israel out of Egypt, and says that He brought us out too. He requires us to remember His mighty acts in making a people for Himself, and tells us that we can be a part of that people too. He brings us to a Table, set with symbols of His body and His blood, and He commands us, "Eat and drink in remembrance of me, until I come again." God calls us to remember.
I don’t think I could possibly improve on the way the prophet Isaiah says it. Turn with me now to chapter 46, verse 3:
Our God is saying, remember. Remember. Remember what I have done for you, and remember that I am faithful and I am going to keep on doing it. Remember that when you were hungry, I saw to it that you were fed. And I will keep on. Remember that when you didn’t see how you could get out of debt, I brought you around to a new place, and I will keep on. I carried you and I will keep on carrying you.