What we choose to remember often makes the difference when our journey gets a little bumpy along the way. Memory is a powerful tool in either our arsenal of defense, or our battery of offense. Memory is the process of being able to "recall" or "rethink" again. When our memory begins to go with the advancing of age or because of some trauma to the brain, it is indeed a troubling affair for us. Last night, mom sat musing over why she still remains on this earth - since she cannot any longer enjoy the sense of sight, has impaired hearing, and often cannot even remember the simple things like calling to make a hair appointment. Her question: "What did I do to 'deserve' all this in my old age?" I just sit and listen, because I really don't know why her course has been directed as such, and I know the answer that she is nearly 96 doesn't really make all she is dealing with seem "fair" by any means. One thing I do tell her frequently is how much the past six years have mattered to me - for she has been my constant companion through these years - something I know she has enjoyed and in which I have taken much pleasure, as well. Memories have been formed - they will be remembered long after she is gone. The power of memory can be directed toward what we choose to "rethink" - either good or bad. The choice of how we "rethink" a matter is what often makes the difference between the memory being "pleasant" or "painful".
I always remember that the Lord is with me. He is here, close by my side, so nothing can defeat me. So my heart and soul will be very happy. Even my body will live in safety, because you will not leave me in the place of death. You will not let your faithful one rot in the grave. You will teach me the right way to live. Just being with you will bring complete happiness. Being at your right side will make me happy forever. (Psalm 16:8-11 ERV)
Our psalmist finds solace in remembering who is with him as he walks through the various things he must face in this thing we call "life". It is God he chooses to remember - his companionship, closeness, and comfort. There is something powerful in "rethinking" his companionship, in "refreshing" our impression of his closeness, and in "regenerating" the comfort he brings by the closeness of his breath. The process he describes is that of bringing back into the "conscious mind" the things he has "stored up" in his unconscious mind. This is the process of remembering - this "bringing forward" what has been stored up for future reference. It is like when I go to the shelves in my pantry and move a few cans around to find that one can of that one ingredient I need to complete the meal for the night. It was "stored up" for that particular meal - it takes on purpose when it is taken from the recesses of the shelf and put into service for the meal at hand.
In remembering God's constancy of companionship, we come to the conclusion we NEVER walk alone. In recounting his closeness, we draw upon the strength of his presence being there right alongside in the midst of what may not be the "friendliest" of trials. In returning into our thoughts his constancy of companionship and closeness of presence, we are able to find comfort in the midst of even the toughest of circumstances. This idea of "returning into thought" is what David often referred to in the psalms he penned. They actually are sung today in thousands of churches as a means of "returning into thought" the many blessings of his goodness, love, and grace. This is indeed the power of memory - the ability to "return into thought" those things which we may have forgotten because of the complexity of issues invading the space of our brains at that moment. In settling his mind long enough to "recount" the blessings of God in his life, he finds peace again and presence of purpose in the midst of the battle.
In recall, we are bringing into our present thoughts "matters" which were previously considered. In other words, we are "mulling over" the former things which were "put in" our minds which may not have served their purpose until this very moment when they are remembered. This is the power of allowing scripture to "get into" our minds - we may not gather all the "meat" from it the first time around, but what gets into our minds has the ability to be "recalled" when the need exists for that direction. We often choose to "mull over" some things which only make the matter at hand worse - like the impossibilities of whatever it is we are going through at the moment. I am a list maker - not our of necessity, but it helps me remember what it is which needs to be accomplished, and then I can go back over how much I have accomplished already. This "going over" the accomplished tasks is often the reminder to me that what still lies ahead is "small change" considered to the things already completed! I don't get as defeated by what still lies ahead because I can recount what has already been undertaken successfully.
The power of memory is also this concept of "figuring out" a matter at hand. In the ability to remember or recall, mull over, and come to conclusions, we enter into this place of "figuring out" what it is we are needing to know for the moment at hand. Memory "stored up" what we needed for the moment at hand. This is how God's mercy, love and grace so often work in our lives. We store up bits and pieces of each of these along the way in our lives. When we most need mercy, we "recount" the many ways mercy has been there for us in the past. We take heart in remembering God is consistent in his character, so his mercy will never end. We find comfort in considering again his mercy - unmerited favor shown on our behalf. The same is true of his love and grace. They are considered time and time again - bringing new insight into our present "moments" - forming again and again new thoughts which will be placed within our memories. In time, we will not only have the old memories of his love and grace, but these new ones, as well. This is probably what David meant when he referred to God "teaching him the right way to live". In the recounting of God's mercy, love and grace, we are allowing God to teach us the right way to live.
We find true life because of his mercy. We continue in this walk through the constancy of his love. We stand assured of making it through to the end simply because God's grace is making the way for us to finish well. There is much power in "recall" - choose well what you think upon today, for in the moments of memory we will find the "fuel" to propel us forward! Just sayin!