Remembering to Forget

bridgeBeing in my eighties, I’m thankful that both my short term and my long term memory have remained vital. Memory is one of our most precious human gifts.  Augustine called it “the mind’s stomach” from which we bring things up by recollection (Augustine, Confessions 10.14.21). Memory acts as a kind of watchful tutor, our conscience.  In my own mind lodge some memories that have called me to repentance again and again.

One came to me yesterday as I read about a Tea Party protest.  When I was twelve, a neighbor girl about the same age whose sharecropper family rented the farm next to ours, without asking, drew water out of our cistern.  I yelled at her, “Hey!  That’s our water!” and ran out to chase her away.  She turned and ran with her bucket sloshing water.  Over her shoulder she shouted back, “Water belongs to everybody.  God gives it.  It’s not yours!”  I pray that God will forgive me, but I don’t want to forget an incident that sensitized and tenderized me.

Some memories, however, put people out of commission if they do not remember to forget.  That is the way we have to think about such things, isn’t it?  God made us with rememberers—not with forgetters; so we have to remember to put things behind us.  Hardly anyone would have grasped this point better than the Apostle Paul—zealot and persecutor of the church.  “Brothers [and sisters],” he told his beloved Philippians, “I do not consider myself to have arrived, but one thing I do, forgetting things behind and stretching forward toward those ahead, I race ahead toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14).   Remember to forget “things behind.”  What are they? Things that never really mattered?  Things you can’t do anything to rectify?  Things that weigh you down and hold you back?  How can you lay them aside?  As Paul did, remembering and then “stretching forward toward those ahead” . . . toward the prize of God’s upward call.

One Response to “Remembering to Forget”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Very lovely and thoughtful. May I quote you Mr Hinson?

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