by Dee Bowman
Memory is a wonderful mental tool. It is the faculty with which we recall and bring to life again things that have happened before. It is at the base of all experience and its value to our lives is unquestioned. Memory is not connected to time or place. In fact, a thing done at some other time and in some other place can be recalled so vividly that one can sometimes almost live the scene again, experiencing all the precise emotional stimulations which were present at the time of the original event.
Memory is important in our service to God. At various times God calls on us to use our faculty for recollection in order that we might be stronger, or be prepared, or be courageous, or be careful. ”Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance” (1 Peter 1:12-13). In Acts 20:35, Paul asks his auditors to bring to mind again the saying of Jesus that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” The radical idea in forgiveness is God’s assurance that He remembers the sin no more.
The everyday service we are to render to God is connected inseparably to our ability to remember and be impressed with certain kinds of information. If we can learn to keep that information in an ever-ready mode (near the present situation) so that it prompts us in a moral way, that is a proper use of the memory. But if we push that information back and do not recall it, we are apt to be vulnerable. Spiritual information is just like any other type of information; if it is not retained, it has not really been learned.
Many people have left the Lord because of a failure to remember the value of time. Time is a precious thing, a gift that once it is squandered, cannot be reclaimed. It takes time to serve God. Time to meditate about His love and our need for it. Time to properly locate ourselves to see to it that we are headed in the right direction. Time to examine our motives, to ascertain why we do what we do and whether or not it is in our best spiritual interests to be doing what we are, Time to teach ourselves and others. Education of any sort is a slow process and we must be willing to invest the time it takes to learn. It takes time to pray, to help others, to be a good parent, a good neighbor. And through it all we should realize that time invested in a right thing enhances its value. In fact, time invested in the right thing is what living the Christian life is all about.
Remember the joy of overcoming, There is no worthwhile project that is easy. It takes planning, time, perseverance. “And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do it heartily as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23) is always good advice. There is great joy from just participating, from just being involved. Bring to mind the most joyful experiences of your life—that ballgame you won against all odds, the new job which came only after great labor, the temptation you overcame after great struggle. To recall these things is to secure the future, to know that it can be done. And in all instances, the pleasure is derived as much from the participation as from the success achieved. We should always remember the joy of serving to the end, even if the way is hard.
If we are to be pleasing to God and hope to live tranquil lives, we must see the true value of character. Character is what we are. President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “A sound body is good; a sound mind is better; but a strong character is better than either.” He is right. The sound body does not necessarily argue as to who you are; neither does the sound mind. But the character does! The Christian must be virtuous, dedicated, courageous. He is the kind of person who recognizes the true worth of his character to the cause he represents; that in order to ”let your light shine before men” he must stay spiritually trim and adequately motivated so that there is absolutely no doubt about who he is and where he stands. ”Remember who you are” is always sound advice.
Finally, let us not forget the simple, the little, the insignificant. I think we are so impressed with the great things that we are often bored with less than the exciting, the climactic, the cataclysmic. There is real excitement in the small, real joy in the less, real contentment in the insignificant. The Lord was born in a manger; the world was first evangelized by simple men. “lt is more blessed to give than to receive” is not the astounding, the weighty, the startling—but a simple route to true joy. Stop and notice Spring, feel the gentle breeze, play with the little people, perceive the sheer wonder of just being loved. Ah, what great use of the memory is made when we recollect the small!
CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE FEBRUARY, 1984