Reading for Tuesday, June 11, 2019 John 14:25-31.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31 but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. NIV
One thing I think we all fear is losing our memory. Beyond the fear of dementia or the disease of Alzheimer’s we struggle with recollecting people and events of the past. While visiting in the hospital on Monday a conversation with a patient included struggles with memory. This was not the reason for her admission, just a topic of conversation as this person confessed difficulty remember a person who inquired of her wellbeing.
I shared a few occasions when I struggled remembering the name of someone I knew quite well or a fact I wanted to bring up in a conversation which eluded me. Such events are frustrating for sure, but there are some things we need to remember. Jesus was preparing his disciples for his crucifixion and eventual ascension or return to his Father in heaven. His comments reflected the concern he knew they would have for remembering accurately events and teachings after he left them. Of course they would have one another and have the time together to review and rehearse the important details of their experiences with Jesus, but as we know we each have differing perspective of events we share in common.
Different perspectives are good for they open us to new understandings and applications. Plus, we know how helpful it is to have others clarify what we experience in common; we can so easily miss something that someone else would catch. That does not mean that our remembrance is true to the intention God meant for them to have for us. It is for this reason Jesus promised the Holy Spirit. One of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is to help us remember the truth, and not only remember but comprehend God’s intent so the disciples, and we today, can pass the truth on to others.
I find this work of the Spirit reassuring concerning the reliability of the scriptures we have inherited. Peter refers to this in his second letter, writing: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21). I also fear losing the memory of the great things Christ has done in my life. I do not want to lose sight of the sense of my “lost-ness“, or my need for grace. I do not want to become too familiar with grace that I take it for granted.
Forgetfulness is a tool Satan uses to pry us away from Christ, not at all meaning the loss of memory natural to us all, but the forgetfulness of where we have come from or the experiences of forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. We can easily become enamored with present concerns or even service or ministry that we forget who we are and whose we are. Getting and staying close to Christ while remaining open to the Holy Spirit will renew and refresh our intimacy and empower our witness.
The retraction or distancing of the Holy Spirit is what the psalmist feared when he prayed: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (51:11-12) Remembering where we have been and what God has done for us keeps us in joy. Once someone asked me why they needed church. He declared it boring to hear the same old story repeated over and over again. We repeat the story to remind ourselves of the cost of Christ’s offering and the present debt we owe to following him faithfully today.
May you remember the joy of your salvation! May you the “old, old story of the Savior who came from glory; how he gave his life on Calvary to save a wretch” like you and me. May you remember so you can keep the faith and pass it on.