If you asked my wife, she would tell you that I have a great memory. She might go on to say something like, “Don’t tell him something you don’t want to ever hear about again because he won’t ever forget.” Now she has good reason to say that. I have a knack for remembering things. I can remember things about the Bible I memorized when I was a kid at church camp. I can remember the entire starting lineup for The Big Red Machine (Cincinnati Reds in the 70’s). I can remember trivia, names, golf courses (every hole and what I shot), etc. I am noticing that my memory is slipping a little with age, but I have a good memory.
That said I find myself wishing I had a better memory today. I say that because last night (November 4th) one of my lifelong friends in Oklahoma suffered his second heart attack in four days and died. Duane was 53-years-old. We became friends when I was in the eighth grade, and we shared a lot of great times growing up together. He had one of those “larger than life” personalities. He was friendly, he was funny, and he had one of the best tenor voices I’ve ever heard. I could listen to him sing for hours. Sometimes we sang for hours. We were very close as classmates and remained close even though life brought all the natural changes that getting older can bring. One thing that helped is that we were both pastors so we shared not only the bond of friendship but the bond of living out a calling. And even though I’ve spent the last few days remembering him and our time together, I really wish I could remember more.
I’m mindful today that the Bible has a lot to say about “remembering.” Most of it is a reminder to us to remember the presence of God, the promises of God and the way God has provided for us in the past. No doubt God knows that remembering is not something we do well which brings me back to wishing I had a better memory today.
There are certain things I don’t ever want to forget. Here are a few in no particular order. I don’t ever want to forget the sorrow I feel when I am confronted with the reality of my sin because that feeling helps me to avoid sin in the future. I don’t ever want to forget that God has forgiven my sin and that once it has been forgiven; He has chosen to remember it no more. I don’t ever want to forget how I feel each time I hear Tricia sing. I don’t ever want to forget how Sandy looked on the day Andrew got married. I don’t ever want to forget how I feel when my son asks me for advice about ministry. I don’t ever want to forget all the ordinary people in the church I grew up in who loved and encouraged me. I don’t ever want to forget wanting to be exactly like my Uncle Mike when I was growing up. I don’t ever want to forget the unique bond I have with my brothers and sisters because no one else will ever know what it’s like to grow up together. I don’t ever want to forget that my mom and dad did not grow up in perfect homes. I don’t ever want to forget how much I love the local church. I don’t ever want to forget to be thankful for everything I have and thankful I don’t get what I deserve.
That’s just a very partial list. I don’t have enough room for everything I’m thinking. But if I were going to add just one more, it would be that I don’t ever want to forget the blessing of having some special and unconditional friendships when I was very young. And I don’t want to forget to look for my good friend Duane when it’s my time to walk on streets of gold. I don’t think he’ll be hard to find. I’ll just listen for his voice and follow the applause.