A friend of mine is fond of saying that if it wasn’t for his wife, he wouldn’t have a past! A lot of folks — maybe most — have trouble with memory as they get older. That has certainly been my experience.
At the risk of sounding self-serving, I’d like to share an interesting little story about memory with you.
Several years ago a reader of the British Weekly wrote to the editor. “Dear Sir, I noticed that ministers seem to set a great deal of importance on their sermons and spend a great deal of time preparing them. I have been attending services quite regularly for the past 30 years and during that time, if I estimate correctly, I have listened to no less than 3,000 sermons. But, to my consternation, I discover I cannot remember a single one of them. I wonder if a minister’s time might be more profitably spent on something else.”
As you can imagine the letter kicked up quite a storm of response for weeks. The pros and cons were tossed back and forth, until, finally, this letter ended the debate: “My Dear Sir, I have been married for 30 years. During that time I have eaten 32,850 meals — mostly my wife’s cooking. Suddenly I have discovered I cannot remember the menu of a single meal. And yet, I have received nourishment from every one of them. I have the distinct impression that without them I would have starved to death long ago.”
This little story reminds us how easy it is to be forgetful and unappreciative of the blessings of God that surround us on a daily basis, especially when things don’t go as we’d like. In spite of the fact that we live in the best place on earth, that most of us have access to delicious food, nice clothes and comfortable places to live, many of us seem to concentrate on the things we don’t or can’t have. It seems to be a common temptation to forget the grace of God, to become overly proud of our achievements, and to act as though we were responsible for the things we have been given.
During the days of the Old Testament prophet Hosea, who lived in the 8th century before Christ, God lamented that his people Israel had forgotten him because of their pride. “When I fed them,” he said, “they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.” (Hosea 13:6)
Jesus’ experience with ingratitude is well known by everyone. The story in Luke 17 of the nine ungrateful lepers whom Jesus healed is legendary, and is but one example of the ingratitude of those with whom he came into contact.
Let me encourage you to keep the riches of the mercies of God foremost in your memory so you can avoid the pitfalls of ungrateful forgetfulness.