Thanks for the Memories

Thanks for the Memories July 7, 2024

Social gatherings can be highly stressful for people with memory issues!
Social gatherings can be highly stressful for people with memory issues! (Photo by Helena Lopes on

I am not known to have the best memory in the world—or even in my own house.  I frequently meet and hold lengthy conversations with people who clearly know who I am.  Typically, it will happen at a church gathering, or at some kind of school reunion where people I have taught or taught with will meander over to me with a gleam in their eye.

“Hey, David!” Clearly this person knows me.

“Hey!” I respond. This perfectly non-committal response is a delaying tactic I have perfected, hoping that sooner rather than later something will be said to give me a clue who this is in front of me.

The conversation that follows can sometimes be quite extensive, as I dodge and weave my way through the minefield of trying to be engaging without revealing my utter lack of recall.

After they leave, I’m accustomed to leaning over to my wife and whispering, “Who WAS that person, anyway?  I’m not proud of this, and before you ask, I don’t know why I don’t just ‘fess up and say, “I’m sorry, my memory is going; could you remind me of your name?”  

Interestingly enough, while I don’t have a great memory for relatively recent events, I can recall events from childhood surprisingly well.  When I say childhood, I mean EARLY childhood—like crib-level events!  Seriously. For example, I have a recurring memory of being in my crib under a wool blanket.  I’m crying because the blanket (it was a kind of pea green color) was itchy and irritated my sensitive skin.  I’ve always been a sensitive kind of guy, what can I say?  My mother was becoming exasperated because I kept kicking the blanket off, so she came in and actually safety-pinned it down around me. I can remember being a toddler and pitching a fit about something or other and having my favorite toy truck taken away as punishment.  My mom called it a car, and I remember even at that young age being put out because EVERYONE knew it was a truck and not a car.  I remember sitting on the curb outside my apartment as a small boy waiting for my grandparents to arrive for a planned visit, and then being surprised when they somehow came in without me seeing them.  Now, I know these are not perfect memories, and some details may have been misconstrued and corrupted by time, but they are my memories.  My own.  And I cling to them for some reason.

The God I serve has, we would presume, a perfect memory.  Nothing happens that he does not see, and there is nothing he forgets.  Well, except for one thing.  God does forget one thing, and I find it ironic that the one thing he doesn’t remember, I cannot seem to forget.  The Bible says God has removed our transgressions from us, “as far as the East is from the West” (Psalm 103:12) and that he will cast our sins, “into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).  One of God’s greatest promises to us is to, “Remember [our] sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).  I don’t know about you, but I find this concept intriguing and awesome and wonderful–and, in a way, troubling.

Jesus can free us from the prison of guilty memories.
Jesus can free us from the prison of guilty memories. (Photo by Ron Lach on

Why troubling?  Because this is one area where I tend to outdo God.  I cannot seem to forget my own transgressions.  My memory in this area, and this area alone, seems almost perfect.  How I wish it weren’t.  How I wish I could learn to forget what God has forgotten and remember what he remembers! I need to learn to lean on God’s forgetfulness and stop trying to remind him of what he has already put out of his mind.  Part of being remade into his image is to let him cleanse both our being and our memory of our former failures, not in the sense that we do not know they happened, but in the sense that we have forgotten how to serve those failures and forgotten how to give those past failures control  over our minds and self-perceptions today.

Are you there?  Is this your struggle.  Try memorizing Hebrews 10:14, my life verse:

“For by one sacrifice He has made perfect those who are being made holy.”

That’s it! God has made (that’s something completed in the past with ongoing effect) perfect (without blemish or fault) forever (this accomplishment doesn’t have an expiration date) those (that’s us) who are being made (happening now and ongoing) holy (set apart for God’s purpose).

Whatever other memories your mind tries to hang on to, put it to work hanging on to this verse, remembering this promise.  And drop a comment below sharing how God’s promise that he has made us perfect and is making us holy has encouraged you along the way.

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