Last Sunday, I had an odd sensation that the clock or the calendar had been turned back a few years when I paid $1.55 a gallon for gasoline. On the news, I heard that O.J. Simpson was on trial. Now it is Wednesday and the electricity is off at the church. I am sitting, writing by the light from unshuttered, unblinded windows. The year might well be 1808, rather than 2008.
However, in the midst of Advent, with Christmas just days away and 2009 drawing nearer each day, our lives are drawn toward tomorrow. There are certainly reasons to be excited. A new year always holds the promise of new possibilities and new adventures. Yet, tomorrows can also come with uncertainties. We all have them. Challenges that are unique to our own personal situations. Tomorrow can be an occasion for dread, rather than excitement.
Recalling spiritual memories can be a helpful thing to do when facing a difficult situation or an uncertain tomorrow. Remembering how God has been present with us in the past can bolster our outlook for today. We should never let those times in our lives, when God has been intensely close to us, slip from our memories. They are rich treasure — treasure that moth or rust cannot destroy.
Once we have experienced the presence of God giving us what we need to face a difficult time, that experience cannot be taken from us. The memory of God loving us and holding on to us through a hard place is always there for us to remember and reclaim. In remembering, we draw our lives closer to that same source of strength and life. We draw ourselves closer to God even as God draws closer to us.
Over the course of a lifetime, a collection of spiritual memories can become a rather potent force in our lives. When we remember challenges that we faced together with God, our present difficulties can seem a little less daunting. However, remembering those times when we have experienced the presence of God in an especially close way is not always an easy thing to do. In fact, it can be quite difficult. The difficulty comes from the circumstances of the situation we are remembering. When have I felt God’s presence in an especially intimate way? When I have lost a loved one. I love to remember Mammaw, Pappaw and Daddy. I do not like remembering when they died. The hurt and the grief at those times was heavy. Yet, it was when the hurt and the grief were at their heaviest that God came nearest to me. In remembering when God felt so close, I cannot help but remember why I need for God to be near.
The clock and the calendar only move in one direction — forward. There is no going back to another time or place. Yet, we can remember, and it is good that we do. In remembering, we cherish again the special people who have touched our lives while at the same time, we strengthen our grip on the hand that has held on to us all these years.