If Only I Could Remember

June 21, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)


A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

My life is an endless cycle of walking into rooms and forgetting what I went in there to get – until I go back to where I started. Then I remember it, only to forget it when I get back to where I went in the first place. It’s getting to where I have to write myself a post-it note just to remember what I want to get in the next room.

This memory thing can be problematic. There is the problem of two people looking at the same thing, but seeing something different. My husband and I do this all the time. The technical name for it is marriage.

When we moved to Tacoma, Washington over thirty years ago, we were in a rush to get to our first church service there. We hurriedly scooted our three young children into the car and flew down the highway. My husband glanced out the rearview mirror and noticed a flurry of papers flying around behind us. Then he remembered leaving his briefcase on the top of the car. Could this paper storm be everything from his briefcase, including all our important documents we didn’t want lost in our move? Yes, indeed it was!

Frantically we pulled to the side of the highway and he started picking up some still intact files, his Bible, and what random documents he could find. Miraculously, he wasn’t killed by the oncoming traffic. We were surprised when a leather-jacketed, Good Samaritan on a motorcycle stopped to help. Believe it or not, most of the important stuff was recovered. The Good Samaritan waved farewell, and we have recounted the incident many times. However, each of our versions seems to be slightly different. He remembers the Good Samaritan taking off his helmet and revealing long, shoulder length, tousled hair. I remember his head as totally shaven. To this day each of us knows he/she is right and the other one is wrong.

Police officers experience this all the time. When eyewitnesses are questioned about whom they saw do the robbery, the descriptions indicate the crime was committed by a short, tall, black, white person with short, long, brown, blonde hair wearing blue sweatpants or a brown suit.

Our memories can be flawed and unduly influenced by time, bias, and suggestions. Some of us even tend to shade the truth a bit—not intentionally, but if we tell an embellished story long enough, we actually think it is true. If we are having difficulty with a person, our minds magnify their imperfections. We even believe our fantasized ideas about how much better things were in years gone by.

Such was the case when the Israelites came out of Egypt. For years they groaned for deliverance because of their unbearable hardships (Exodus 1:8-22; 2:23; 5:7). However, when God delivered them, they grumbled about how much better off they had been in Egypt.

When they didn’t like how God provided for them they’d recall their distorted view of the good old days. “Remember the fish we ate in Egypt…” (Deuteronomy 11:5) or “It would have been better if the Lord had just killed us in the land of Egypt! At least there we had plenty to eat” (Exodus 16:3 ERV). Yes, they may have had fish, but they also had oppressive slavery under cruel task masters, to the point that even their baby boys were killed at birth.

Later, God would tell them to remember when they were slaves in Egypt. Remember that God delivered them to freedom (Deuteronomy 5:15). Remember what God did to Pharaoh and to Egypt (Deuteronomy 7:18). Remember how God led them through the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:2).

This was more than exhorting them just to remember these things; it was telling them to remember accurately. “Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NLT).

Human memory is flawed. Life, even the Christian life, is not easy so when times get rough we might imagine it was better before God revealed Himself to us. Not true! We forget how lonely, depressed, angry, hopeless, or void of purpose we felt without God. We forget all God has done for us.

When God reminds me of something He did for me that I have forgotten, it fills my heart with joy. It has to be a God thing because I can’t even remember what I came into this room to get.


O God, help me remember Your love, mercy, kindness, and faithfulness to me and my loved ones. Bring to memory all those little prayers You answered immediately and the ones where You wisely didn’t give me what I wanted because You know what’s best. Gently and lovingly remind me of all You have done for me, lest I forget.

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