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Remember Not to Forget


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Remember Not to Forget


The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
— Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

Deuteronomy 6:1-9
1 Samuel 7:1-13
Matthew 26:26-30

God blesses and provides. People forget.

What is it that causes us to forget the fundamental experiences of our life?

Scientists say that forgetting is essential to the human mind. As the brain filters literally millions of experiences each year, it must offload less essential information. The brain filters out trite and painful info-bits in an attempt, not unlike a computer, to keep the “hard drive” clean.

Thousands of years ago, the Hebrews posted important information on doorframes and gates. They tied symbols on their hands and hung them from their foreheads. They later built stone piles to remember their victory over the Philistines. Jesus himself asked his apostles to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of him.

As we age, we realize how much work it takes to remember. We must memorize, write things down and ask for reminders. And the influx of information continues. We attempt to sip small amounts of information from gushes of the proverbial fire hydrant.

This week our family was spared. Our second son, Ben, fractured a vertebra while jumping on a friend’s trampoline. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a helicopter ride to the Shock and Trauma Unit. Despite three fractures, the bone remained stable, and he experienced no neurological damage. Needless to say, we are exceedingly grateful. We exhale a sobering sigh about every 10 minutes.

But we’ve navigated these traumas before. For a couple weeks, we say a little thank-you prayer every 15 minutes. In a couple months, we remember about once a week. In a couple years, it’s just another blip on the radar. In a couple decades, it barely registers.

That’s why the visuals are essential. We need photos. We should reread journals regularly. God taught Israel to create holidays that require them to recall.

And when we do look back, we realize that life is a series of waves. There are crests and troughs. But our understanding of the waves is counterintuitive.  As time goes on, we realize that the troughs are actually crests. The best times are when crests are disguised as troughs. When life, or health, hangs in the balance, this is when we grow and experience real life. And such revelations are most often grasped in hindsight.

There’s one thing we should remember about these times: don’t forget.

What have been the formative experiences in your life?
Do you recall them regularly? How have they impacted your life?
How can you remember them better?


© 2006