By Rev. Gary J. Blanchard
More than 73 million Americans gathered around their televisions on the night of February 9, 1964, to watch the Fab Four’s debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” As a 15 year old teenager I was as close to our old black and white TV as I could get. Several weeks ago, exactly 50 years later to the day and time I was again in front of my TV. This time I sat in my lazy-boy watching The Beatles: the Night That Changed America — a Grammy Salute on my big screen.
I’m no longer into music the way I was back then. This time around I hardly knew any of the performers, but I remembered the music. I knew the melodies and the lyrics. I even found myself singing along. Not out loud of course; I didn’t want to embarrass myself. But in my head, I was right on key with every word.
Several days later, while still thinking about the show, I was amazed at how each song had stirred memories.
Memory is a wonderful thing. That night my memory was full with sights, sounds, events, places and friends. Memories of 50 years ago were as fresh as if they had happened just last week. That’s amazing because on most days I can’t even remember what I had for lunch. I wish I knew why that happens because maybe it would help me better understand why I sometimes forget the faithfulness of God.
Ever been there? I have. Times when I’ve been discouraged, disappointed, frustrated, fearful and even angry. Times when it seemed like my prayers never left the room. Times that have tested my faith.
Psalm 77 was written by a man who experienced similar feelings. Through the opening verses we discover that he was going through a bad experience that sent him running to God. He tells how he prayed and wept and tried to connect with God all night long, but, to his great distress, he heard nothing. With no response, his heart began to fill with doubts.
In verses 7 to 9 he asks, “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
But in verse 11 the writer has a change of heart; “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” (vss. 11, 12)
Something happens between verses 10 and 11. This man is suddenly transformed from depression and discouragement to being filled with thoughts of God. I can’t attest with certainly as to what happened, but I believe his memory kicked in and it changed his focus.
His focus changed from need base to remembrance based. Instead of being overwhelmed with his needs he began thinking about God; remembering His deeds, remembering His miracles and meditating on His mighty works. When he did, it deepened his understanding of who God is. Doubt left; faith filled his heart.
Memories are like pictures. Before digital photos most of us stored our old pictures in books or boxes. I have shoe boxes filled with old pictures in my basement. Some day, when I have time, I’ll retrieve them and relive the memories. But other old photos are framed and placed in various places in our home. I see them daily; occasionally, I’ll even pick them up and examine them closely. Every time I do, I relive that moment. Our God encounters should be like those special photos…viewed every day and frequently examined.
Like the Psalmist, we’ll realize that reflecting on our God encounters of the past will fuel fresh encounters today. When I take time to “remember the deeds of the Lord” – my salvation experience, my baptism in the Holy Spirit, my call to ministry, miracles of healing in my family, God’s provisions – my faith is stirred.
So while you may forget what you had for lunch yesterday; don’t forget the faithfulness of our great God. Let the sights, sounds and events of the past generate fresh faith for today’s new challenges.
Rev. Gary J. Blanchard serves as the Assistant Superintendent and Executive Secretary for the Illinois District of the Assemblies of God. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.