"Remember the works of the Lord."
-- Psalm 77:11
When I was 11, my parents arranged for me to take violin lessons. Two years later I was the only "grammar school" member of the high school orchestra.
No need to applaud. Our town was so small that if the French teacher and I hadn't added our violins, the "orchestra" could have passed for a band.
For the next five years my mother beamed whenever I played for her club meetings or sat in the orchestra's one-row string section. But gradually my music interest shifted to the piano, and I've hardly touched the violin since.
Recently, when a young violinist asked me to help her with her music, I was stunned that I couldn't play her piece at all. I had to admit I could no longer play the violin.
Aging memory jokes are everywhere: If I could remember your name I'd ask you where I put my car keys... We don't forget things because our memories are poor, but because our disks are full... etc. But, as my violin experience shows, memory is one skill that proves the adage, "use it or lose it."
According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, some form of the word "remember" occurs more than 150 times in the Bible, and the counterpart, "don't forget," nearly 100 times more. Educators tell us repetition is the sheerest form of learning; God and his Biblical writers must agree. One particular event is repeated many times, and is included in nearly every Jewish worship service to this day:
"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Teach them diligently to your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.... (so) that you do not forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the land of slavery" (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 12).
As usual, we'll celebrate Memorial Day this year in a variety of ways. Businesses will close, mail won't be delivered, and ceremonies will honor those who have died in service to our country. Some will also visit a cemetery to honor family members who have died.
As our memorials imply, the word "remember" has many synonyms, each indicating something deeper than a dentist appointment next Thursday, or a baseball game this afternoon. This remembering is keeping current those things that shaped or influenced our lives.
Christians are also taught to remember what God has done for them, including:
"Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8). A fine way not to forget our spiritual roots is to gather at least once a week to hear and study God's Word.
"Remember now your creator in the days of your youth" (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Wise Solomon concludes his treatise on life by telling his son that man's ways will fail, but God's ways will last forever.
"Remember the words I spoke to you: no servant is great than his lord" (John 15:20). Here Jesus is speaking about his impending persecution, and hinting that his followers may suffer, too. But his stronger point is that remembering what he taught and modeled for them would prepare them for whatever they experienced in the future.
Likewise for us, remembering renews our knowledge of important things, keeps us in touch with the past, and prepares us for what lies ahead.
Memorial Day may be an annual holiday in America, but for anyone with a skill, a family to love, or a God to thank and serve, Memorial Day is as frequent as each new day.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local freelance writer. E-mail comments to seabara at aol.com.)
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