Monday, 4 July 2011


I have heard it said many a time 'Forget the past, look to the future', or 'The past doesn't matter, what is important is today' or 'The past should be left in the past otherwise it will ruin tomorrow'.

Around New Year people get very nostalgic about the past, usually in a negative way, and vow that this year will be a better year.

Time and again, day after day, people have a bad day and then speak about the past in a very negative way, trying to distance themselves from it and be identified in a way that forgets the past and only looks to the future.

I have serious problems with this.

I wonder if our identity is best understood in terms of memory.

Is not our entire life and existence all a memory?

When you read this sentence, every single moment you read it turns into a memory.  The reading of this sentence has now become a memory.

Every moment of my life is a memory, some forgotten, some remembered, but all of it a memory.  But it is this memory that defines who I am with every heartbeat.  My identity is a memory.

What do I mean by all this?  Well I'm not 100% sure, but let me see if I can make a bit more sense of it.

When something good, bad or indifferent happens in our lives, these moments and events are played out before our very eyes, felt by our very souls and lived, survived or simply existed through.  These life journeys obviously impact us in various ways because of their very real pain, joy or indifference.

As we live through these events, even when we are in the midst of them, they are continually becoming a memory. That is not a bad thing but a reality.

When I hold Sarah in my arms and tell her that I love her, that moment becomes a memory.  The beginning of the hug is a memory, the words 'I love you' are a memory, the warmth of the embrace a memory, even as we still hold each other.  But it is the memory that makes the moment even more special because it is the memory of the moment of embrace that gives you the desire to continue the embrace.  Every beautiful moment shared between us may not be remembered, but it is the memory of our lives lived and love shared that compels us to desire to make tomorrow another part of that beautiful memory.

When something painful happens it forms another part of our memory.  As the painful event continues to unfold the view of tomorrow's pain is shaped by the memory of the last second of pain.  The pain of a moment will become a memory in a second, a year and ten years.  And in each second, year and decade the memory shapes who we are.  Whatever we remember or forget about the pain, the memory defines our identity.  But the memory of that pain does not need to define us negatively.  But rather help us understand the beautiful parts to memory even better.

So you can't forget about the past and say that the past doesn't matter, because very single second is a memory, and you are being defined by your memory.

God says to Moses that he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  These three guys had died when Moses was alive.  But God had made a promise to these guys that he would be their God for all of time and that the descendants of these guys would never be forgotten by God.  The memory of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob mattered to Moses and who Moses was and what he would do with his life.  The memory of these guys mattered to God because God had made promises to them that would count long after they died.

Memory matters.

Memory matters not only for our lives, but for the lives of our children and our children's children.

So who you are and your identity is defined by memory.

What if your memory involved God?  What if you got involved with the promises God had made to humanity through Jesus?  What if the promises of Jesus became your promises?  And what if those promises were a part of your memory?

The thing with God's promises and memory is that God does not 'remember' like we remember.  So when I make a promise I make it in light of what is happening at that moment and in the past with a hope for the future, but still an unseen future.  God makes a promise FULLY aware of what that promise will mean into the future.  So when God 'remembers' you it is something deep, secure and beyond imagination.  God's memory of you can be something that leads you into a bright and beautiful future.

You can be shaped by God's memory.

I'm not sure if any of this makes any sense!  I've rambled in my writing today.  Maybe some of you can help make sense of this...

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