Moment's Reflection February 9, 2022

by Dr. Dan Jones on February 9, 2022
“Remember . . . .” 1 Chronicles 16:15
“Forgetting what lies behind . . . .” Philippians 3:13

I was talking with man who has seen more heartache in his life than any person should have had to face. On occasion I invite him to remember his story with me. He recalls a trail of tears from the time he was 5 years old. Full of broken families, abandonment, abuse—a story of a man who never was allowed to be a child. He was sent off to live in a boy’s camp when he was 11 years old because his drunken stepfather ran his car into a telephone pole and died, and his mother didn’t know how to handle life, much less him. Instead of loving him through their family pain, she sent him off. What happened to him there is too dark to tell. “It depresses me to remember that part of my life,” he told me one day. “I figure its simply better to put those stories in a locked box and throw the key away.” Seeing the pain he experiences remembering, I can’t say that I blame him. As much as I value remembering, I can see why some people would rather not. The Scriptures are mixed on their insistence. Much of the Old Testament is a story about a holy people making time to remember the story of how God rescued them from slavery and delivered them into Promise. But there are just as many other times when Scripture says we should look forward, not back. Paul, for instance, says forgetting what lies behind, he chooses to focus on what lies ahead. My best thinking about Scripture’s seemingly mixed message is that a spiritually healthy life requires both—remembering and looking forward, (a sort of spiritual ebbing and flowing) and having the wisdom to know which is needed. The Easter story offers a possible way to blend the two. Trying to find Jesus’ body in an empty tomb, angels prompt frantic disciples, “Remember how he told you.” Mark’s gospel adds the admonition that the first witnesses stop looking for the living among the dead, “but go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” Here, perhaps, is the necessary balance. We remember to take stock of what, despite hardship and darkness, we have learned. But we look forward to the hope that the past does not define us. With creative God, risen Jesus, the story of our lives is still being written. Salvation is acknowledging what in our past needs risen Christ’s healing. -Dan

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