“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” –Philippians 1:3
I remember you…from time to time.
Some people I think of often and reflect frequently on what they mean to me. Other people, I have a completely bizarre remembrance.
I’ll be somewhere and see an old friend of forty or fifty years ago and think, “I always loved him (or her) so much. Why have I not thought of them in all these years?”
I’ve been in a cemetery for a funeral and spotted the gravestone of a friend of bygone times and had the same thought. “They were so precious. I would love to see them! Why have I lost them in memory?”
Recently, I read a novel about a character with perfect memory. When something happened that required him to revisit a past experience, he had no trouble. He would activate his memory and return to that moment in time, recallingl every detail, every word spoken, every nuance. He could read the license plate of a car, could tell you the temperature, and give you as accurate a rendering of that moment as though he were standing there at that moment. In the book, this was a special gift.
But it’s not.
Such a gift would be a curse, to never lose anything in the past, to remember every detail of every experience and every person.
God has gifted us with the blessing of forgetting. We are able to turn loose of minutiae, the insignificant clutter of the past which we will not be needing to function. Otherwise, the mind would reel under the weight of the trivia of all our years.
I do not remember every classmate from elementary school. I have forgotten all the textbooks we used, the daily routine, the comings and goings of people in my life from the early years. And it’s all right. There was no need to hold on to that information.
Likewise, we can forget the slights and barbs from some thoughtless persons, the putdowns and harshness of one or two classmates, the callousness and selfishness of a boss or two along the way, and the meanness of a particular neighbor. It’s all gone. And aren’t we glad of that!
The problem is I also forget some things which should be remembered. I want to recall the gifts given by a kind friend, the precious words from an encourager, the notes of a generous church member, and the friendship of people who blessed me just by being alive and nearby.
My friend Randy told me that his father used to keep a little notebook in which he recorded every good deed and every gift he gave to another person. I was stunned. My comment, which I still believe, was: “I cannot think of a more perfect recipe for misery.” To record all the things people owed you! Better to list their kindnesses to you than the opposite.
Sometimes, I’ll spot a person in a crowd or on a sidewalk who reminds me of someone from my past. When that happens, I have learned to take that as a reminder from the Father to lift that person in prayer. That’s how it happens that I sometimes pray for a person I’ve not seen in half a lifetime.
I also do something else I would normally be reluctant to admit: I pray for dead people.
I read somewhere that C. S. Lewis did this too (prayed for the dead). I’m not sure how he did it, but what I do is this. When someone from the past comes to mind–particularly a loved one–I might say, “Father, bless them in eternity. May they be wonderfully blessed by Thee for all their gifts, their love, their faithfulness.” Likewise, if I’m recalling the antics of someone who made life difficult for me as their pastor, I will say, “Father, please forgive them and do not hold this against them. May they be blessed in Heaven with Thee forever and ever.”
Is that good or not good? I cannot imagine there being anything wrong with it, and we will not know until we get to Heaven if God heard and answered. But that’s pretty much the case with all the rest of my prayers too, so I’m good with that.
I’m praying for you today. (That is, for all who read this)
God bless you with joy in the Lord, give you love that overflows your heart, and fill you with a strong desire to bring glory to the Father in all you do. May He show you the way, give you the courage to obey Him no matter the cost, and let you see fruit for your labors. Through Christ our Lord, amen.