31 01 2008

Why, you might ask, was there no Wednesday in this rambling of yours? Because there are gaps in life. You’ve never noticed the gaps?  You mean you can remember every single thing that has ever happened to you? Perhaps it is that there are just times in life that just go by with nothing terribly interesting happening, just the filling of life. Don’t you have days that you look back on and wonder, “Whatever happened on that day?” Did it actually happen?  Did we all miss it? Of course not; there are copies of The Times for every day! It must have happened. It was just ordinary.

It’s the horrific things that you can’t get out of your memory. Some of us are plagued with memories we wish would go away. I have one such memory from many years ago when my arrogance as a young man caused me to be in an incredibly embarrassing situation. I cringe whenever I think of it. There is another painful memory when I acted in the very best of interest of a friend and was terribly misunderstood and endured the unhappiest year of my life. Fortunately I was never abused as a child and don’t have to cope with those memories, but I know those who do. I have an elderly friend who still fights off the memories of the horrors of torture in a prisoner of war camp. Memories can be terrible!

I know people who have anguished and pleaded with God to have their memories wiped.  Some I know He has done that for. Others still struggle with the memories. When I’ve asked Him to wipe mine, I didn’t get a clear answer but I sensed the reason for the refusal was threefold. Part of it was to keep me humble, to remind me never to be like that again (the embarrassing incident), part of it was to soften me and make me gentle with others (rejection and misunderstanding broke my hardness), and part of it is to remember – when I foolishly forget – that this world is tainted by Sin and we need the grace of God to come and heal us and uphold us.

So much for the memories we would wish to wash away. There are other memories – the good ones – that remain vivid and strong and give us a sense of gladness and gratefulness. Holidays do this, especially I find, when they are reinforced by a digital camera. Those things help balance life.

My wife has taught me that memories are important. She picked it up, I think, from the writings of Edith Schaeffer. Good memories help build secure families. Every now and then my children make a comment about a time in their childhood in our garden. Now our grandchildren are creating new memories to be brought out in many years to come.

Some of us, I’m sure, find gaps in our lives because we so rush past the tough present looking for a better tomorrow and so we miss the possibilities of ‘today’. A lovely lady I know recently spoke in my presence about how she used to yearn to win the Lottery as a means of getting her family out of the hard-up days which they knew. But then she came to know Christ and has found that now her desires are completely different, and she focuses now on what she can leave her children whenever she dies, and it has nothing to do with material possessions. ‘Today’ has become important for it can never be repeated and in today she has the opportunity to do and say things in her family that will make them all stronger and more grateful in the years they have ahead.

Gaps are sometimes frustrating though. I write Bible meditations as a means of seeing into the wonder of what the Bible has to tell us, but I have to confess there are often times when I feel completely frustrated with the writers. Why did you only give us the bare bones of the story? Why were just these things important to you? Why didn’t you give us more detail?  Live with it; that’s how it is!

Christians  and scientists used to talk about the “God of the gaps” referring to the way, in the past, a tendency was to attribute what was unknown to God, but as more and more became known, the gaps got smaller and the things attributed to God got smaller as well. How limited we were in our thinking. If He’s the Creator that the Bible says He is, then He designed everything and knows how everything works, but that’s not the issue is it? It’s whether things can work without Him. That’s what dear Richard Dawkins gets in such a fuss about. If the world can operate and function without God, then who needs God. The only trouble is that we don’t know just how much of the movement of life and existence is because God keeps it going, and we never will this side of heaven. It also doesn’t address the fact that God speaks into and acts into His world and so sometimes He does this, and it carries on unchanged, and other times He does it and life and existence is changed and we call it a miracle. But one of the frustrating things about God is that He holds Himself tantalisingly just out of sight and reach – except for those who yearn for Him with all their heart.

Yes, He came and revealed Himself incredibly in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, God in a flesh body, but ever since has limited Himself to the occasional angelic visitation (and there are a lot recorded by very reliable people – another story on another day) and to frequent moves by His Holy Spirit, and that leaves most of us confused – except those who yearn for Him with all their hearts. So even life with God is filled with gaps. Some days He appears to draw very close and other days He seems the other side of the Galaxy, but maybe that’s more about our perception than His reality. Welcome to the world of gaps!




2 responses

1 02 2008

Personally I love my memories. Even the ones i hate. I try and embrace them especially the ones that make me cringe. For me it is a reminder of who i was and how i became the man i am now. I have been shaped by all the things that i have done and have happened to me. I thank God that it is mostly despite of the things i have done i am who i am, rather than because of the things i have done.

9 02 2008

Yeah, our memories are nothing but echos of parts of our lives we’ve already lived and survived through, even if only just! It makes us who we are and without them we wouldn’t be able to see how God had changed us. One thing I’ve learned in life is that memories are just snapshots of the past, we don’t have to let them dominate our present and future. Easier said than done, I know, but learn from those cringe worthy moments and let Him help you move on!

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