What you remember matters

Remembering is important. But it’s not only important that we remember, it’s also important what we remember.

Last week I stopped at an inexpensive motel on my way across the desert.

In the morning I was going to do a bit of work at the desk before finishing the drive. So I turned on the lamp. It didn’t work. I looked at it and discovered it had no bulb. So about 5:40 or 6 in the morning I went to the front desk to get a new one.

The man at the front desk told me he couldn’t help me because he didn’t have any bulbs at the desk.

I was a little surprised. I guess I’m used to nicer hotels where they would never tell a guest, “No, I can’t help you.”

But I accepted that he couldn’t help and asked if I could get a bulb from the cleaning staff.

“No. They’re not here. They don’t show up till 9.”

Probably the main thing I’m not reporting was his tone of voice.  Someone could have delivered his line with compassion. He chose something that sounded more like defiance and anger.

I tried again. “Okay,” I said. “Can you point me to the nearest grocery store where I can buy a light bulb?”

His response shocked me so much I’m not sure I can get it verbatim. It was something like, “Oh no, sir. You cannot do that. You cannot do that. You cannot destroy this hotel like that.”

I know. You probably don’t believe he could have said that either.

I’m not sure I remember his exact words. But he very clearly accused me of taking willful destructive action against the motel if I bought them a light bulb.

At that point, I realized there was no way this conversation was going to get any better if I persisted.

I walked away from it.

I thought about buying them a light bulb anyway. But I decided to shake it off and get back to work.

So here’s the question.

In a year, what will I choose to remember about that stay? Because 99% of the room worked. The TV worked, the cable worked, the bed worked, the shower worked, the hot and cold water worked, the AC worked, the heat worked, there were towels and sheets and carpet and a desk and a chair and a fridge and. . . . I could go on and on and on. Everything in that room worked. There was only thing that was broken. (Two, if you count the guy at the front desk.) So what will I choose to remember?

Most of us face some version of this question with our lives.

What will we choose to remember?

Will we remember the few things that don’t work?
Or the many things we take for granted that are such a blessing?

Will we remember the times that were genuinely hard? Or the mercy of God that God us through?

Will we remember the setbacks? Or the accomplishments that they inspired?

God, help us to remember the good things that surround us. Thank you so much for your generosity. Amen.

 

Philippians 4:8 (NRSV)

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Trust God’s promises

God told Abraham to leave all that he knew and to move somewhere new. God promised to bless Abraham and to bless all the families of the earth through him.

After some time, Abraham heard the promise again. In fact, as you read through the Bible, you’ll discover that God keeps repeating the promise over and over and over.

It’s probably not that God is forgetful, right?

The most likely reason for all the repetition is that as the years went by and Abraham and Sarah didn’t see any evidence of God’s promise coming true, they started to wonder and doubt and forget.

If you want to read about this for yourself, you can see God’s promise stated in Genesis 12:1-3, then repeated in Genesis 12:7, 13:14-17, 15:4-20, 17:1-22, and 22:16-18.

We can remember, but often we don’t. We often forget God’s promises, God’s goodness, God’s trustworthiness.

What are some things God has promised that you haven’t seen evidence for in your life (at least so far)?

God, thank you that we can trust you. Help us to remember all you have done in the past so we can praise you in the present and trust you in the future. Thank you. Amen.

Psalm 18:30b (NRSV)
T
he promise of the Lord proves true.

Remembering what God has done for you

If someone asked, “How has God helped you over the course of your lifetime?” it’s possible that nothing would come to mind at first.

But if you kept asking yourself the question, eventually you would think of an answer.

If you persisted after that, eventually you could think of a second way God has helped you. Eventually. If you’re out of practice answering this question, it might take quite a bit of effort to unbury just one or two memories. But if you keep persisting, you will be surprised at how many memories you have of how much God has blessed you. And the more you ask yourself the question, the more you will remember.

This habit of reminding ourselves of the many ways God has blessed us is very helpful, and we’ll see many ways it brings blessing over the course of the next two weeks. So you might start your list today and keep adding to it as memories come to mind: How has God helped you over the course of your lifetime?

Keeping this list will bring blessings that will surprise you.

God, thank you that you help us to remember the many ways you have blessed us. Bring to mind things that we have forgotten, and help us to give you the praise you deserve. Thank you! Amen.

Psalm 77:11-12 (NRSV)
I will call to mind the deeds of the LORD;
I will remember your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all your work,
and muse on your mighty deeds.