Keeping memories is far more difficult than making memories. Memories are made in an instant, but must be held on to for the rest of our lives.
Occasionally someone will compliment me on my memory. Here’s how I remember things: google calendar stores my appointments, events, and family birthdays. Our church directory helps with your birthdays and anniversaries. Evernote keeps up with my task lists, project plans, sermon ideas, and honey do’s. My email inbox is overflowing with reminders to get back in touch with people. Voicemail reminds me of who called me. A weekly planner keeps up with my errands and chores and where I have to be. Our photo albums keep track of where we’ve been and what we’ve seen. A sticker on my windshield reminds me when to get my oil changed. My white board keeps up with brainstorming sessions and what I need to do today. My Post-it notes remind me of what I need at the grocery store. The ink on the back of my hand tries to remind me of that really important thing I forgot the last three days…and finally, Leslie reminds me of everything else.
We’re definitely better at forgetting than remembering. Our memories need lots of help to keep from dropping things—even really important things. If I’m going to get things done, I have to be intentional about reminders.
We celebrate Memorial Day because it is important that we never forget the men and women who have sacrificed to make the world a better place. It reminds us that people of courage can and do make a difference in the world. It reminds us of the exceedingly high cost of war and helps us to long for peace.
God knows that we’re a forgetful people, so he helps us remember. He gave the Jews tassels and phylacteries to remind them of the power of his law (Numbers 15:39). He gave Israel the feast of unleavened bread to remind them of his deliverance during Passover (Deuteronomy 16:3). He gave us parents who can tell us the story of what God has done in their lives, and remind us of the power he has in ours (Deuteronomy 32:7).
Today we gather for the reminder that Jesus gave us. “He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:19)
We wear busy-ness like a badge of honor. To be busy means that we are important, we’re not lazy, and that the world can’t go on without us. How wrong we are!
Kevin DeYoung wrote a book that was really convicting to me. If you find yourself too busy too often, you might find it helpful, too. It’s called Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem. In it, he lists many of the poor reasons for our addiction to business:
- Pats on the back (we like the attention we get)
- Performance evaluation (we want people to know we are go-getter’s)
- Possessions (we busy ourselves to get them, keep them, and not ever use them)
- Proving ourselves (to show how much we matter)
- Pity (so people will feel sorry for us)
- Poor planning (because we just didn’t think about it)
- Power (so we can be in charge)
- Perfectionism (because good enough isn’t good enough)
- Position (to maintain our image)
- Prestige (to look good)
After considering these motivators behind our scheduled insanity, he asked one more question: Am I trying to do good or to make myself look good?
We praise the busy bee, but swat the buzzing gnat. Take a look at your week. Were you doing the things you really needed to, or were you just busy?
We really need to do our best to understand God on his own terms. Many Americans view God as some impersonal power behind the universe. They see him as the “Force” in Star Wars, or “Karma” in the eastern religions, or “Fate” in the Roman world.
God has not revealed himself as an impersonal background force or power. He is a “personality.” That word isn’t quite right. He’s not a man (Numbers 23:19), but man is made in his image (Genesis 1:27). A person and God share many things in common. Scripture frequently uses emotional words to describe God.
Check out this list of God’s emotions from GotQuestions.org:
- Anger (Psalm 7:11, Deuteronomy 9:22, Romans 1:18)
- Laughter (Psalm 37:13, Psalm 2:4, Proverbs 1:26)
- Compassion (Psalm 135:14, Judges 2:18, Deuteronomy 32:36)
- Grief (Genesis 6:6, Psalm 78:40, Isaiah 68:10)
- Love (1 John 4:8, John 3:16, Jeremiah 31:3)
- Hate (Proverbs 6:16, Psalm 5:5, Psalm 11:5)
- Jealousy (Exodus 20:5, Exodus 34:14, Joshua 24:19)
- Joy (Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 62:5, Jeremiah 32:41)
Impersonal forces are unintelligent, simple actions. They make no choices. Gravity doesn’t sit around and decide whether or not it will cause you to fall out of your chair. Gravity always does what gravity does. It is the same with all of the impersonal forces (magnetism, electricity, atomic forces, etc.)
Personal forces, however, make choices and decisions. My dogs aren’t the same as I am, but they do have “personalities.” They make choices and exert power over their environments.
An impersonal God is the same as no God at all. He doesn’t choose to act. He would just act! A personal God decides to intervene on behalf of his people, to reveal himself, and to make himself known.
I doubt this story is true, but I’m going to share it anyway! A group of women were at a seminar on how to live in a loving relationship with your husband. The women were asked, “How many of you love your husband?” All the women raised their hands. Then they were asked, “When was the last time you told your husband you loved him?” Some women answered today, a few yesterday, and some couldn’t remember.
The women were then told to take out their cell phones and text their husband: “I love you, sweetheart.” The women were then told to exchange phones with another person, and to read aloud the text message they received, in response. Here are some of the replies:
- Who in the world is this?
- Eh, mother of my children, are you sick or what?
- Yeah, and I love you too. What’s up with you?
- What now? Did you wreck the car again?
- I don’t understand what you mean?
- What did you do now?
- You’re kidding, right?
- Don’t beat about the bush; just tell me how much you need?
- Am I dreaming?
- If you don’t tell me who this message is actually for, someone will die.
- I thought we agreed you wouldn’t drink during the day. (my favorite)
- Your mother is coming to stay with us, isn’t she?
These replies don’t exactly point to the healthiest relationships, do they? Several years ago during our door-knocking campaign, I met a lady who told me that she already had a church home. “Great,” I replied. “Where do you worship?” She hemmed and hawed and stuttered and stammered…and she couldn’t remember. If you can’t remember the name of your church, you’re probably not going often enough. If you get a reply like these to a text message to your husband, you’re probably not communicating very well.
How is your prayer life? What would God say if you stopped right now, and prayed, “I love you?” Would it be the first time in months, or would it be continuing the conversation from moments before? It’s a challenge, but it’s a beautiful one. Paul told us to “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). That’s the epitome of constant communication.