Memory is a blessing. How many times have we thanked God for the gift of memory? Not that we remember everything we want to, but can we imagine what life would be like if we had no memory, even short term? It is something I had not even begun to appreciate until I was caring for my mother who had lost hers. Without memory even the simplest things become problematic.
What about a trip down Memory Lane? Is it worthwhile? That depends on our purpose and what we look for. Memory Lane is often thought of as a profitless, sentimental retracing of the past. But it doesn’t have to be.
Instead of wasting valuable time in pointless reminiscing, let Memory Lane be a review of lessons learned. Lessons for today. And tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow.
Think about the song we just sang. Think about each verse in the context of your own Memory Lane.
First, where we started. Lost.
Lost, out in the world full of darkness and sin;
No sweet lasting comfort was dwelling within,
Till Truth in its beauty, afforded release,
And led me in pathway so full of sweet peace.
Then, days filled with blessings. Blessings in the narrow way.
The days pass so swiftly, yet blessing they’ve brought,
To help me along in the narrow way walk;
This Truth, right from heaven, my burdens removed,
Affording me pleasure, ofttimes I have proved.
Then Memory Lane.
How well I remember, way back in the night,
How lamp of the Truth shed its beautiful light,
And made nature, science and truth ever blend;
Responding to nature, my heart said, Amen.
Memory lane for sure.
What did Peter say about where we come from?
1 Peter 2:9 9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
CHOSEN people. Called to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people. Called out of darkness into His marvelous light!
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses was taking the Israelites down memory lane. They were nearing the Land of Promise, and it was time to recall what God had done for them. He says, think about all those lessons you have stored in memory. Remember God’s purpose in keeping you those 40 years in the wilderness. Why did He do it?
Deuteronomy 8:2 2And you shall remember all the way the Lord God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove [test] you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or no.
What was God’s purpose? “To humble you, to prove you, to reveal what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”
The word “prove” is the same word used when God put Abraham to the test, in asking him to give up Isaac. It was a test to show his loyalty.
What would be next for the Israelite people? Would they still remember God when they were settled in the good land and everything was going their way?
Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 17-18 11“Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; …
Beware, says Moses, when all is going well, lest you forget the God who delivered you.”
It is a serious warning: Danger ahead! What would they be tempted to say?
Continuing in Deuteronomy 8,
17then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ 18“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
Moses says, you are going to forget. Memory Lane won’t save you from the pride of your heart. Realize that wealth is yours only because GOD gave you the POWER to get it.
It is the same point Paul made to the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 4:7 7For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
God has brought US down many roads. Why? Is it not to humble and prove us?
What do WE, you and I, see as we walk down Memory Lane? What brought you to the faith you have today? Was it some experience? Or your spouse, or parent, or sibling? Maybe someone you met at work, or some strange contact you never could have expected?
Isaiah put the same reminder to his people. Remember where you came from.
Isaiah 51:1–2 1“Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.
It is a good reminder. Go down Memory Lane, and appreciate what has been done for you.
Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And to the hole of the pit [the quarry] from which you were dug [hewn out].
They were descendants in a great line—the line of Abraham. Theirs was a great heritage of faith. Look back, Isaiah says, and thank God!
2Look to Abraham your father, And to Sarah who bore you; For I called him alone, And blessed him and increased him.”
How did God find us, among the masses of humanity, to give us His knowledge. Why did He choose to open to US the way to salvation? Be humble, and thank God. How did the great apostle Paul feel?
1 Corinthians 15:9–10 9For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Paul labored “more abundantly than they all” to show His gratitude for being called!
Scripture tells us God’s ways are “unsearchable.” He worked in the past, and He is still working. As Job said about himself:
Job 5:8–9 8“But as for me, I would seek God, And to God I would commit my cause— 9Who does great things, and unsearchable, Marvelous things without number.
There is yet another memory lane that will benefit us. Ezekiel tells about a memory lane of penitence. This time it is remembering where we went wrong, so that we don’t fall there again.
Ezekiel 36:31 31Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations.
A poem by Caroline Atherton Mason, of the mid 19th century, puts this thought into meaningful verse. We need to look back on memory lane for the purpose of improving the present.
O those olden days of dallying,
When I wantoned with my fate;
When I trifled with the knowledge
That had well-nigh come too late.
Are we dallying? Are we trifling with our knowledge when time is critical?
We never have time to trifle away or dally, if we would remake ourselves in the character likeness of Christ.
Oh, my soul, look not behind thee;
Thou hast work to do at last;
Let the brave toil of the present
Overarch the crumbling past.
The “brave toil of the present” is what we need to be doing NOW. We cannot change the past but we CAN use the toil of the present to improve our future.
Build thy great acts high and higher;
Build them on the conquered sod
Where thy weakness first fell bleeding
And thy first prayer rose to God.
That is a memory lane worth walking. Worth pondering. Worth remembering.
Remember what started you on the road to the Kingdom.
Remember where you won your first victory over yourself.
Remember where you came from.
1 Corinthians 4:15 15For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
Memory is a blessing if used for good things according to God’s instructions.
Our memories can work for us or against us. Let them be for us, so that we can learn from our mistakes and our victories in the past. Let them give us the impetus to go on toward our goal of winning eternal life.
Now with our hearts set on the future, we have lots to occupy our minds that are worthy of remembrance. The more we meditate on these things the more we grow like Christ. One day we will meet Him and when He greets us, we want to be like Him that He will recognize us as His.
Thank God for our memories!