Memory is both intriguing and important.
Just this afternoon, I had to ask my wife, "Where is the salt shaker?" Such questions cause my wife to sometimes wonder if she and I are living in the same house.
I have been living on the east side of Petaluma for almost 20 years but I still cannot tell you the name of the two shopping plazas. I know where K-mart is and I know where Safeway is, but I cannot tell you the names of the plazas.
I can readily remember the deadline for this article, but I have trouble remembering to take out the garbage bin on Sunday night.
Like any accomplished musician, my wife can remember pages of music, scores, and plays from memory. The same fingers which run over the keyboard of a piano also write checks, but the owner of those fingers which remember complicated scores cannot remember the simple three or four figures in our check book. Most of the time, she cannot even tell me whether it is three figures or four.
Selective memory is confined not only to my household. Some men are schizophrenic in their memory: very good at work but incredibly bad at home. A real estate agent of some 15 years told me he could remember the selling prices of all the houses he was involved in. A successful accountant said he could remember almost all the tax-deductible items of his major accounts. Some ministers preach without notes. I have played chess with someone who did not even have to look at the chessboard. But some of these great minds often cannot tell you how old their fathers are or even how many years they have been married.
We remember things that are important to us. We remember details that are of interest to us. We remember things that, if forgotten, have serious consequences to us. What we remember reflects our understanding of our priorities, responsibilities and interests.
What do you and I remember?
More importantly, what does God want you and I to remember?
Remember God's creation.2
Remember God's deeds.3
Remember God's words.4
You may be interested to note that our Creator also has selective memory.5 God can choose to remember certain things and not to recall other things.
What does God choose to remember?
God remembered Abraham and delivered him from Sodom and Gomorrah.6 God remembered Rachel and opened up her womb.7 God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and delivered the Israelites out of Egypt.8 God remembered Hannah and blessed her with Samuel.9
In Isaiah 44:21, God promises His people: "I will not forget you."
In brief, God remembers His children who diligently follow Him.
What does God forget?
In the famous Psalm 51, David asked God to "blot out my transgressions," "wash away all my iniquity" and "blot out all my iniquity."10 David was asking God to forget his sins. When God forgives, He also forgets.
In Isaiah 44:22, God reassures His people He will forget their sins when He says, "I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist." God remembers His own children but He chooses to forget their sins. Shouldn't we all shout for joy that God chooses not to forget us but to forget our sins instead?
Before I end, I have to share with you several very important things our Lord Jesus has taught us about memory.
First, in Luke 12:7, Jesus teaches that "the very hairs" of our heads are numbered. God does not only do a head count, He does a hair count. The God, who remembers each and every single last sparrow, as the previous verse suggests, is the same God who remembers you and me because "you are worth more than many sparrows."
Second, Jesus commands us to keep the Lord's supper. The One who makes us knows that we only remember things that are important to us. Maybe through remembering Him in the observance of the Lord's Supper, we will come to realize His importance in our lives.
Third, Jesus teaches His disciples that God the Father will send the Holy Spirit to live within every believer. And one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to help us to remember Jesus. Jesus says, "The Holy Spirit ...will remind you of everything I have said to you."11
Fourth, Jesus is ready to answer the prayer of every person who is willing to cry out to Him, "Remember me," as the repentant criminal did on the cross. In response to the criminal's request, Jesus said, "Today, you will be with me in paradise."12
God is ready to remember you. But do you want God to remember you?
Do we want to remember God?
What we remember matters because we are nothing more than what we remember we are.
O Lord, do remember me if there should come a time when I do not remember You.
- Ecclesiastes 12:1
- Exodus 20:8-11
- Deuteronomy 8:2
- Jeremiah 31:33
- It borders on heresy to say that God, being all-knowing, could forget because if He could forget, how can He be all-knowing? God cannot forget but He can choose not to recall and He can choose not to act upon His knowledge, either temporarily or eternally.
- Genesis 19:27-29
- Genesis 30:22
- Exodus 2:24-25
- 1 Samuel 1:19
- Psalm 51:1,2,9
- John 14:26
- Luke 23:42-43