Sunday, September 04, 2011

Notice, Remember, and Tell

I'm very pleased to introduce a guest blogger for the Sunday devotional this week, Jack Popjes. I know you will be blessed by his insight. Marcia Laycock


I am rarely stuck for words, but this great-grandmother’s reply left me gaping like a dying codfish.

I had just finished leading a writers’ workshop based on Psalm 78:3-4 for several dozen retired people who wanted to leave a legacy of written “Family God-stories”. One elderly lady briefly told a fascinating story of how God had answered the prayers of her family during the beginning of the Great Depression.

She was just a small child but prayed earnestly for her Daddy to get a job. And he did, as a construction worker on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. When, after four and a half years, the bridge was opened on May 27, 1937, she and the rest of the family rode in the first motorcade to cross the bridge.

After the workshop I asked if she had already written that story. “No, I haven’t,” she replied, “this is the first time I have ever told this story to anyone.” Huh? Never?! The first time!? Codfish time for Jack.

I discovered she had not even told her late husband, or any of her kids, grandkids or great-grandkids. For 75 years, two generations of her family born after her had been driving across that huge orange bridge regularly, never realizing it symbolized God’s provision for their grandfather’s family during those dark, desperate depression years of the 1930s.

As I drove home that day I wondered how many thousands of other Christians are failing to tell God-stories such as these, and thus robbing Him of thousands of opportunities to receive glory and praise.

Throughout the Bible God commands people to remember—147 times in the Old Testament and 70 times in the New Testament. “. . . things we learned from our ancestors, and we will tell them to the next generation. We will not keep secret the glorious deeds of the Lord.” Psalm 78:3-4. When the Israelites stopped telling the God-stories, their descendants fell into sin, over and over again.

We live in chaotic times. It is hard to notice and then remember. We are overloaded with information and have no time to think. That is Satan’s work. Our work is to stop, think, pray, and note the answers to our prayers. Keeping a diary is a great tool to help us think, reflect and remember. The weakest ink lasts longer than the most powerful memory.

Then, we need to tell and retell the God-stories in our lives: the answers to prayer; the protection from harm; the amazing provision—all the things that God has obviously done for us. Our kids, grandkids and great-grandkids need to know these things.

If we don’t notice them, we will forget. If we don’t remember we can’t tell the next generation. Through our negligence we keep secret what God has done and rob Him of the glory and praise due to Him.

Who wants to do that?

After serving for forty years as a pastor, a linguist, educator, Bible translator, Wycliffe executive director and sought after speaker, Jack now focuses on his writing ministry. He writes weekly for two blogs, and has published three books. He is president of Inscribe Christian Writers Fellowship.


Vonda Skelton said...

As I read this piece, I was appalled that someone would have such a great story...and keep it to themselves.

And then I realized all the stories I've kept to myself. Most of the time it's because I think no one cared.

But what if they did?

Barbara Parentini said...

Hi, Jack. Your post warmed my heart. Just this morning, I read a letter sent by a friend thanking me for something I'd done for her. She made the sweetest story of it, like a devotion. I'm glad she took the time to share her blessing.

I love encouraging others in my seminars to write "Keepsake Letters" that pass on their life stories. Thank you for your insightful words and Scripture here. They affirm how these letters bless others and honor God.

Nicole said...

So true. Well done.

Ane Mulligan said...

This gives me a nudge, so thank you. I think. I'll have to let you know. Some family members may not think so.

just kidding!

sally apokedak said...

Thanks for this post. It's important to tell the stories. My husband died four years ago and each year on our wedding anniversary, the children and I go to dinner and we tell stories about him. We want to remember him and the things we learned from him. How much more important to remember the times God has been faithful to carry us, to teach us, to discipline us, and to comfort us.

In Psalm 143 David is full of fear. His heart fails him because the enemy is after him. His response is to remember the days of long, to consider the work of God's hands. Looking back at how God has been faithful in the past is what give us confidence that he'll be faithful in the present and future.

Oops. I'm blogging in the comments section again. It's a terrible habit. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

Ane Mulligan said...

Sally, what a wonderful thing to do! I think it's so important to our children to keep those memories alive. Family history means so much!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I loved the line: "The weakest ink lasts longer than the most powerful memory."

I'll be linking to this post on 9/30.

Susan :)