We are moving. After forty-three years of marriage and eleven years in the same house, we are selling, moving everything into storage and going to Germany for the summer to work with an English speaking church. It is an exciting journey, and we are energized by it. But going through our “stuff” and trying to sort out the junk has been a challenge.
We have found unopened boxes that followed us from Texas to Minnesota and back, still sealed after twenty years. We have thrown away dozens of trash cans full of junk, we have given car loads to Goodwill and hauled boxes to our kids for a garage sale. Still, we have stuff.
Some things have attached themselves and will not let go. We still have boxes labeled “keepsakes and junk” that hold tangible memories: the roller skates I had when I was a kid (the four-wheel kind with a skate key to clamp them to the soles of my shoes); a baseball I wrapped with electric tape when I couldn’t afford a new ball, my daughter’s hand-scribbled cards signed with x’s and o’s, the shoeshine kit my son made for me; my wife’s wedding dress in a box that has remained sealed for 43 years. Multiply these a hundred-fold and you get the idea. What do you do? You rent a storage room, I guess.
The Bible recognizes the importance of tangible memory markers for God’s faithfulness. After the flood, God gave Noah the rainbow as a reminder of His promise. “Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.” When Jacob was on his journey to find his wife he erected a stone at Bethel to remind him of the dream God gave him. “Surely God was in this place and I did not know it.” After the Exodus, God instructed Moses to observe the Passover so that each generation would remember God’s deliverance. The night before his crucifixion, Jesus established the Lord’s Supper so that we would not forget his broken body and shed blood.
Memories are good. They give us identity, and I feel pleasure when I handle these tokens of by-gone days. The reminders of my childhood and youth make me thankful. They give me courage and hope for more to come. Some day, I will take them out again and add to them memories from the future that is yet to be.
But, it is important to “move on.” We must always be ready to read the next chapter yet to be written. I expect this is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14).