You Think You’ll Remember

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I stopped scrapbooking years ago.

They say you stop with your third baby just because you’re so busy or somehow you’re over all that new-momma pride.

But that’s not what did it for me.  It’s that I had never scrapbooked because I’m crafty or creative, in love with paper and colors, a fan of stickers and shaping scissors, or content to spend a few hours (or days) cropping photos and writing in the margins with a gel pen.

I scrapbooked because that’s what moms do.

“Good moms” anyway.

But I found out it had become a dreaded chore, the dragging out of the massive Rubbermaid container, the aching back after hours of gluesticks and paper cutouts, the stressing over straight lines and paper scraps.

Mostly, though, it was the clean-up afterward that did me in.  I may have time to make the albums (maybe?), but who has time to clean up project mess?

Perhaps if I had an entire room hidden away somewhere where everything could be spread out and left there over time instead of interrupting my whole house with clutter, then crafts and creativity would be fun.

Life’s not like that, though.  Mess needs to be stashed away.  It takes time to set up and time to clean up, so mostly I just leave the project alone before I begin.

After years of collecting keepsakes and mementos, my containers, boxes, plastic buckets, and piles grew to mountainous proportions, though.

Sometimes I’d at least remember to label the photos I printed or the pictures my little artists drew before tucking them away for safe-keeping.033

But not always, and that was my mistake.

You think you’ll remember every detail of the who and when and what.  You think you’ll remember the stories, the firsts, every reason behind the paper that sits stacked in a cardboard box in your closet.

Sometimes I do remember.

And sometimes I don’t.

Recently, I dragged boxes out from various corners and hidden places and sorted through the papers and photos. My kids pestered me with questions:

Who drew this, Mom?  Who is this, Mom?  What does this paper mean, Mom?

They wanted to hear the details of the story and at times I struggled to remember which one of them had drawn that detailed picture of stick people with fingers sticking out of their arms like twigs or written me that note:  I luv mom.

How forgetful I am.  Life pushes me faster and faster, rushing through this day and the next, and even those moments you most expect to remember blur into the fog of it all.

Memory isn’t passive, not the way we expect it to be.

No, remembrance is an active discipline, a choosing not to forget despite our humanness, our busyness, and our distracted minds.

We’re not alone in this.

In Matthew 14, we read how Jesus fed the five thousand with a handful of loaves and fish.

In Matthew 15, he did it again, feeding over 4000 with some bread and some more fish.

Then, in Matthew 16, the disciples forget to bring some bread along on yet another daytrip.  When Jesus started teaching them about yeast and Pharisees and Sadducees, the twelve didn’t get it.  They missed the point completely and thought he was chastising them for forgetting lunch.

They couldn’t focus on His spiritual teaching because they were hyper-focused on their physical need.

Jesus said,

O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?  ….Do  you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?  How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? (Matthew 16:8-11 ESV).

Oh those disciples, sometimes I marvel at their block-headedness and sometimes I just want to put my arm around their shoulders and say, “I get it.  I’m right there with you guys.”

We think we’ll remember the miracles and how God delivered us or how He spoke so clearly, cutting right through the noise of our lives to make Himself evident.

Then we forget after all .  Two chapters later in our own story, we’re still fretting over how much bread we have in our lunchbox even though Jesus is so able to do abundantly more than all we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3).

I want to be a historian, a keeper of memories, a relater of miracles and testimonies of  His goodness so that I won’t forget.

He’s done it before.  He’ll do it again.

So I can rest and trust and even wait with expectation and anticipation to see all that God will do.

 

A Week of Thanks: Forget Not

Forget Not
Originally Published 04/08/2011

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will consider all Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.”
Psalm 77:11-12

Today, a dear friend of mine is celebrating with her husband, a job after a period of unemployment.  She is rejoicing in God’s faithful provision, His heart so full to pour out blessings and to meet needs as we look to Him for help.

Today, I remember that same celebration happening in this home.  God brought water forth from rock, something out of nothing, during months of unemployment.  Then, the phone rang on a busy spring day and I stood motionless in the kitchen, keeping all children quiet, as my husband accepted a job—provision so perfect, timing just right.  In that moment, a spotlight shone on God’s activity in our lives and we saw with unmistakable and rare clarity God at work.

Now, years later, I sometimes still remember to thank God for this job wrapped up in paper decorated with God’s handprints and topped with a bow showing off God’s grace.

I remember wanting so desperately to see God in the midst of our need, waking up in the still-dark hours of a frigid morning, leaving children and husband asleep, and driving to church in silence on Resurrection Day, when God forever declared His ability to bring life from death.  Then, with fellow Christ-seekers, crowding around a rough wooden cross stuck into ground, singing a hymn, reading Scripture, watching the sun rise over the river.  Hearing the pastor: “God knows why you have come here and what it is you are looking for. ” I caught my breath.  God met me in the sunrise at a cross.

I remember.

I flip through the pages of my journal from that time, each covered margin-to-margin with God’s promises, encouragements, and challenges—to trust Him, to stop whining and complaining, to be grateful, to know He is in control.  It’s a record of my spiritual growth, tracked on paper like marks on a wall showing how tall I was then, and then, and then—a growth spurt caused by required dependence on a God so dependable.

I remember.

I pull out my favorite pair of shoes, white and covered in colorful flowers, shoes I bought after my husband’s first paycheck at his new job.  Bought on clearance at Target, they were inexpensive and yet totally precious to me.  My “James-got-a-job shoes.”  Every time I wear them . . . I remember.

Jennifer Rothschild wrote, “Remembering is a discipline that takes effort and focus.”

After all, I’m a forgetful creature.  I walk into a room with an agenda, quickly get distracted by toys and books.  Mess, mess–always mess.  How do we make so much mess?  So, I tidy and busy myself (while whining and complaining) and then leave the room empty handed.  My original purpose long forgotten. What did I come in here for again?

I trek to the grocery store with one item I really and truly need and walk back out with ten items in my cart, none of them the one vital ingredient for tonight’s dinner.

I start sentences and then somewhere in the middle lose track of thoughts and words and trail off into silence.

Worrying at night over bills and forgetting past provision.  Fretting over children and forgetting His past activity.  Stressing over a decision and forgetting how He led me through dark and shadowy places before.

It’s an enigma really.  Words spoken and things seen that I long to forget replay in my mind with troubling regularity.  Life necessities and God’s promises that I simply must remember, I forget with ease and . . . troubling regularity.

I’m not alone.  Over and over, in broken record style, God told the Israelites to remember what He had done, to recollect the miracles of their past, and over and over they forgot.   He tells them, “You have forgotten God your Savior.  You have not remembered the Rock, your fortress” (Isaiah 17:10, NIV).

They tried, really tried.  Joshua commanded 12 men from 12 tribes to hoist 12 stones from the dry bed of the Jordan River onto their shoulders, carrying reminders of a miracle as the nation crossed through.   Stone memorials to

“be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’  Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.  And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:5-7, NIV).

My special shoes are the same (I prefer my shoes to large river rocks!).  Physical reminders of a God-intervention.  A sign on my life-road saying, “God at Work!”

Ann Voskamp wrote this week about this world breaking us apart.  Chips, broken pieces and cracks in our soul made by the daily and the difficult.  Kids fighting.  Bills due.  Sick husband.  Dying mother.  Lost mail.  No job.  Shattered relationship.  Wandering child.  Missed appointment.   Trust destroyed.  Marriage dead.  Dinner ruined.

The world chips and chips away at us.  “It never stops dis-membering” (Voskamp).

In the Psalms, David sometimes talked to himself.  He bossed his emotions around a bit and told his mind and soul what to do.  He said, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!  Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2, NIV).

And so today, I am commanding my soul to remember.  Not just the broken and chipped me, made less by the world’s incessant bullying.

No, “all that is within me,” altogether me, every bit of brokenness restored and made whole.  As Ann Voskamp said, I am re-membered and re-collected through forgetting not.  It’s a discipline and a choice to live the here and now in view of past blessings and provision.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King