Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Remember when . . . ?

What events in your life do you remember with the greatest ease and clarity?

For me, I think of some big events: our wedding day (right), my baptism, the day that Meow Meow died (my first pet), and of course my birth (just kidding). Also some random times: making a left-handed shot on my middle school basketball team, getting beat up by the neighborhood bullies when I was 11, accidentally walking in on my "girlfriend" using the restroom when we were in 3rd grade, and trying to impress my parents with my singing skills by lip-syncing to "Runaway" by Del Shannon when I was around 5 or 6.

But unfortunately, I remember my mistakes more clearly and more numerously than anything else. Why, why, why, why, why? I don't know. Maybe it's like this for everyone. We definitely don't enjoy remembering the negative times in our lives. If someone brings it up in conversation, we often say "I don't want to talk about it." We've tried to bury these memories, to forget them, but they just seem to keep returning to our minds.

This past weekend was great, and good memories were made. We took a group of senior high students to Johnson Bible College in Knoxville, TN for a spring retreat. This place is full of memories for Tiffany and I, since we each spent four years of our lives there. It's always nice to run into old friends from college and reminisce, but also to hear about all the new things happening in their lives. College brought back some great memories, but also reminded me of all the stupid things I did during those nine semesters. Some of the stupid things were funny, but others were just sins and mistakes. During our first few minutes there, we ran into some of the youth from the church where I worked in North Carolina. Once again, it was great to see some of my former students who were still growing in their relationships with God; but it also brought to mind my failures and shortcomings during my time there.

So, I wa wa wa wa wonder, what does God say about our memories, and our past in general. I love the words of Paul in Philippians 3:13, "But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead." I can imagine Paul's past coming to his mind often. He could probably describe in detail the day that Stephen was stoned to death (the first Christian martyr), because he was standing there giving his approval (Acts 8:1). He had a dark past, before being saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ, and this was his conclusion. In the words of every mobster, "forget about it."    
So, let us aim for that. Forget those mistakes and sins, because that is what the LORD has done for us (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17, Jeremiah 31:34). 

However, he does ask us to remember a couple things . . . 

For hundreds of years the Israelites lived as slaves in the empire of Egypt. They cried out to God for deliverance, and He heard their cries. He called Moses to be the leader of their exodus from enslavement. After nine plagues over the nation of Egypt, the Pharaoh's heart was still hardened, and he would not let the Israelites go, so God caused one final plague over the Egyptians. The angel of death would take the firstborn from every Egyptian home, but he would spare the Israelites. The LORD commanded them to slaughter a lamb and spread its blood over their doorway so that the angel would "pass over" their home.  After this plague, they were set free by Pharaoh. God then told them to remember this event every year, by eating a certain meal on the first night, and celebrating during the whole following week. 

This is what Jesus and his disciples were celebrating shortly before he was arrested and crucified. Luke 22:1-20 describes that evening, which has been called "The Last Supper." Jesus took bread, gave thanks, and broke it. He gave it to his disciples and said, "This is body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." Then he took the cup and said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." 

Jesus takes the Passover, and correlates it to what God is about to do through him. He takes the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was celebrated each year in remembrance of God delivering the Israelites from slavery, and connects it to God delivering the whole world out of slavery to sin through the perfect sacrificial lamb, himself, Jesus the Christ. And he asks his disciples to do this in remembrance of him. 

When our past rears its ugly head, and we are reminded of what we used to be, our failures and shortcomings, let us remember God's grace that has covered over ALL of that! His grace that we have so freely received through His Son dying in our place on the cross. His deliverance that has given us a new life that is free from the power of sin because of His Spirit that lives in us and gives us strength. 

Amen.

1 comment:

allisunrae said...

Great stuff, Tony! Glad you're in the blogosphere now :)