memories are made for these

Remember 1At this season of remembrance I pondered why it is that God made us with memory. Why did he create us with the ability to remember things, people, events, PIN codes and passwords (sometimes)?

As I pondered I realised that memory is an astonishing gift:

  • Good things that have happened in the past continue to bless us and cause us to smile as we remember them. The moment of happiness is extended in time and the joy is magnified.
  • Important people remain with us in our memories, even after we have lost contact with them or if they have died. The impact that people have had on us, the love we have experienced and shared, the life we have shared with them continues.
  • We don’t need to repeat our mistakes. If we didn’t remember we might find ourselves constantly doing the same things wrong or injuring ourselves. Memories of failure can haunt us and guilt can shackle us, but we can also use them to guide us so we have more chance of avoiding doing them again.
  • We have hope for the present and the future. The Bible is full of encouragements for God’s people to remember – remember God’s goodness, graciousness, faithfulness and love in the past. When the times are tough and we find it more difficult to sense God’s presence or aren’t sure what he’s up to we can remember how he was there for us in the past and be reassured that he’s with us now and will be no matter what. That is one reason why it is wonderful to have Bibles – we can read of God’s faithfulness to others and be encouraged about his faithfulness to us.
  • It draws us closer to God. Jesus told his friends to eat bread and drink wine ‘in remembrance of me’. I find that the occasions when I share bread and wine with other believers are special. They don’t just draw us together but they draw us closer to Jesus as we remember the depths of his love for us.

There’s a lot more to be said about memory, but let me leave you with this thought (and a cheesy joke warning beyond the blessing which you may want to avoid if you are being led into a special place with God right now). Whatever emotions are evoked by your memories, God is there with you. He is in the happiness and the sadness. He is in the laughter and tears. He is in the celebration and regret. He gave us memory and inhabits the memories.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

A loving couple were celebrating their Wedding Anniversary with friends. The husband was talking with his friends, and one of them asked him how long they had been married. The husband thought for a while and then leant over to his closest friend.

“What’s that sort of flower that has prickles on the stem, comes in different colours and you give red ones on Valentine’s Day?” he whispered.

“A rose?” suggested his friend.

“That’s right!” the husband beamed. He called out, “Rose, how long have we been married now?”

memories that make you shudder

Have you done things in the past that make you shudder when you remember them? I was reminded of one of those today when I heard a news report about the possibility of a smoking ban being introduced in UK prisons. Let me set the scene…

I was about 21, fairly fresh out of University with a Law Degree. I was working for a wonderful provincial firm of Solicitors in South Devon in the Litigation Department. We carried out civil and criminal litigation, including being Duty Solicitors for police stations. There were some people who became ‘regulars’ of ours and on one occasion we had a call from Exeter Police that one of our clients was under arrest in their cells and had asked for us.

My boss, for whom I have the greatest of respect, asked me to go and see the client. He gave me some money because the client had said he was out of cigarettes and told me to buy him some and some matches. He told me that this would calm him down and help him to listen to my advice. I did as asked (don’t ask me which brand I bought even though it’s the only packet of cigarettes I have ever bought) and drove up to Exeter with them in my briefcase (which I carried so I looked like I knew what I was doing).

I went to the custody section and was shown into a room where I could meet my client in confidence. He came in and I passed him the cigarettes and matches, which he gratefully took and I listened to his story. I can’t remember much about what we said (and of course I couldn’t tell you anyway) but at the end of the time he was happy with the advice I had given. The police were not going to interview him immediately so I left and drove back to the office.

Later that day I had a phone call put through from the switchboard. It was Exeter Police. I assumed it was to do with my client. It was the Custody Sergeant. He asked if I had visited my client that day and I confirmed that I had. Then he asked if I had given him some cigarettes and matches. I said that I had. Then he said something that made my blood run cold.

match

My client had been sitting in his cell lighting matches and flicking them around the cell as they burned. Thankfully the cells were pretty spartan and he had not set light to the mattress, but the police officer gently pointed out that he could have caused a fire, he could have been injured and it’s possible the police station might have been set alight. he calmly reminded me that if I wanted to give clients anything at a police station I should do so through the custody officers not simply pass them over.

I was horrified at my mistake. I remember going very red with embarrassment (I could feel my cheeks burning) and offering profuse apologies. I certainly learnt that lesson and (as you can tell) have never forgotten it.

Today’s news about smoking and prisons brought it all back. But what it has also reminded me is of the gracious way in which the Custody Sergeant dealt with me. He had seen me when I came into the police station and it would have been clear (despite my briefcase) that I was very new to all of this. He could have screamed down the phone at me and told me I was a blithering idiot (and I would have agreed) but instead he had been calm and courteous and had explained what I should have done.

Today that is a reminder to me of God’s grace to me – he does not scream at me when I get things wrong but patiently and calmly points me back in the right direction, receives my apology and helps me to learn the lesson.

It is also a reminder to me of how we can all better relate to each other. This is especially poignant because on Sunday evening I am looking at the moment in Acts 15 when Paul and Barnabas had a major falling out and went their separate ways. How we need the help of God’s Spirit to help us emulate Jesus at times when we disagree or even argue. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control anyone?

And with God’s grace he can also take the memories that make us shudder and offer fresh starts if we offer them to him openly and honestly.

Be blessed, be a blessing