Summary: Remembering what God has done, passing those along, and making them visible to the world
Set in Stone - Joshua 4
June 8/9, 2002
An 80 year old couple were having problems remembering things, so they decided to go to their doctor to get checked out to make sure nothing was wrong with them. When they arrived at the doctor’s, they explained to the doctor about the problems they were having with their memory. After checking the couple out, the doctor tells them that they were physically okay but might want to start writing things down and make notes to help them remember things. The couple thanked the doctor and left.
Later that night while watching TV, the old man got up from his chair and his wife asks, "Where are you going?"
He replies, "To the kitchen."
She asks, "Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?"
He replies, "Sure."
She then asks him, "Don’t you think you should write it down so you can remember it?"
He says, "No, I can remember that."
She then says, "Well I also would like some strawberries on top. You had better write that down cause I know you’ll forget that."
He says, "I can remember that, you want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries."
She replies, "Well I also would like whip cream on top. I know you will forget that so you better write it down."
With irritation in his voice, he says, "I don’t need to write that down I can remember that." He then fumes into the kitchen. After about 20 minutes he returns from the kitchen and hands her a plate of bacon and eggs.
She stares at the plate for a moment and says, "I knew you were going to mess it up - You forgot my toast."
Sometimes instead of asking the question, "When did you become a Christian," I prefer to ask, "When was the first time you really knew God was real in your life?; When have you really experienced Him in a powerful way?" (Sat – ask the question, have some sharing.) Sun - If we were in a smaller group, I would love to ask that question right now and hear you share some of your responses. To hear you tell those stories, to reminisce a little in what God has done in your life. Every conversation I have ever had like that has left me encouraged and excited and filled once again with awe at the goodness, grace, and mercy of our God. Those are times when life feels real, when the things we are talking about are deep and significant.
How do you commemorate those memories? How do you preserve them, what do you do to remind yourself and celebrate those time? Some people journal – a practice which I recommend to you. They write down in a diary-type place how they are experiencing God at work in their life, and then occasionally read back through some of their experiences. One of the things I have always encouraged children and teens to do when they have reached points of spiritual decision is to write it down in their Bibles, so that there is a record which they can look back at and can see how real it is.
In our culture there is a variety of ways of keeping memories alive. We have statues, monuments, museums, and family lineages worked out in detail. On a more personal level, we have mementos – a tea pot of a grandmother’s, an old hand tool that belonged to dad or grandpa, maybe a pocket watch. I have an old KJV Bible that was given to my mom when she was 14 by an aunt and uncle. And we have photos too, which keep alive the memories of the past.
Why do we do this? Why are older people flocking to the internet in order to research their genealogies? Why the huge interest in antiques? Why do we care about what has happened in the past? Is it just casual interest, nostalgia for its own sake? Or is it something deeper?
I believe it is something deeper. I believe we look to the past in order to understand who we are in the present, and what that may mean for our future. We look to the past to discover where we have come from, which helps us understand why some of the things that are so important to us are that important, why we react certain ways in certain situations, why we have the fears and dreams we have. Now I am not a determinist – I don’t believe that our past determines our future – on the contrary I believe in change, in growth, in the ability to become more than the possibilities of the past may suggest by the power of God. But I recognize the importance of remembering who we are and where we come from, and using that knowledge to help us understand and bring change in our lives today.