“The memory of the righteous is a blessing.” Proverbs 10:7
The Memorial Day weekend has prompted me to consider the importance of remembering, and the grace God gives us to remember. Remembering is a minor feature of our early years when we see the future spread out before us and imagine all the awaiting possibilities. As we grow older the focus shifts to the past by a few percentage points each year. This is not a bad thing at all, for as we gather experiences, as families grow, and as friends sift in and out of our lives we simply have more to look back on.
The problem is that we don’t look back as much as we should. The counter-balance to the grace of remembering is the fear of the future. If we are not careful we invest far too much of ourselves in imagining the very worst circumstance and then living within the numbing shell of that fear.
The antidote is remembering, and specifically remembering all the people God has used to bless, guide, and encourage you. In the Proverb for this week’s GraceWaves, Solomon reminds us that righteous people provide us a stock of memories to sustain and cheer us. This is the way God usually works. He seldom does anything “in person” that He can do through someone else. God communicates His presence and imparts His grace to you though the people in your life. Your task is to be very intentional in taking time to remember all your saints..
I was reminded in a very special way of the importance of this grace to remember by a friend, Lamon Brown. In short, he spoke of two very difficult periods in his life, the fear and depression that resulted from them, and the way God led and is leading him through.
The first challenge was a time when his wife’s health was in doubt, and she flew back to the states from their missionary home in India. During the eight-week separation, Lamon said he faced the darkest time of his life, and fear became his reality. He maintained his morning devotion and in reading Philippians was reminded of a very special passage that had impressed him as a teenager. Paul wrote we can bring all of our concerns to God with thanksgiving and the incomprehensible peace of God will guard our hearts (4:6-7).
Lamon decided to take God at His word. He began thanking God for his wife, instead of only begging for her health. He thanked God for his children, for his calling as a missionary. In that litany of thanksgiving, Lamon discovered that exactly what Paul had promised happened. The peace of God filled his heart. The fear evaporated because of the grace to remember.
The second challenge is more recent and ongoing. A visit to the doctor for a supposed pinched nerve led to an eventual diagnosis of ALS. In his reading, Lamon learned that 3-5 years is the typical prognosis for this terminal disease. In the first few months after this staggering revelation he again felt the stab of fear and depression.
The solution, once again, was thankfulness and the means was remembering. He began a list of all the experiences for which he was thankful going back to childhood. The list numbered over 300, and the numbing fear and depression dissipated. The last time I spoke to him, the dreaded diagnosis was changed to something survivable, but his experience through the darkest valleys confirmed the incredible spiritual value of gratitude.
While some of those experiences, no doubt, had to do with places and adventures, they all are somehow related to persons. It is impossible for a Christian to be thankful without Someone to thank, and equally impossible to feel wonder and awe without having Someone to worship. There are no inanimate blessings and no inanimate experiences. Christians know what unbelievers miss, that God is in all things. He whispers in nature and smiles through the people we love. The memory of the righteous is a blessing.
So this Memorial Day weekend, certainly take time to remember the original purpose of this holiday. Your freedom as a citizen of our country was purchased and is guarded by the blood of fellow citizens, past and present, who stand the post and guard the wall. Be thankful for our military personnel, pray for them, and honor them.
But in an even larger sense collect “memories of the righteous.” God has placed in your life people to love and encourage you. Remember them. Start your own list. The old hymn “Count Your Many Blessings” is not obsolete. It is a vital way God reminds you of His grace and assures you that the way He acted in the past is a promise for the way He will act in the future. Those blessings are almost always through people, though sometimes very privately and personally through God.
Either way, “the memory of the righteous” will always be a blessing to you.
May 24, 2015