The Memory of Grace
The memory of Christ's death and resurrection shapes our faith. In fact the passion of Jesus is closely linked to the memory of the exodus, unfolding as it did on Passover. The original Passover, you will remember, occurred on the night before the Israelites' dramatic escape from Egypt. By marking their doors with the blood of a lamb, they were spared the judgment that fell on the Egyptians. Hundreds of years later, Jesus became the lamb slain for us. But instead of delivering us from earthly enemies, Christ has saved us from bondage to sin and death. Belonging to him is a wonderful but humbling experience. We recognize that we are broken people, sinners saved by grace for a gracious purpose. Remembering ourselves in this way will make it easier to extend grace to people who have hurt us, to those who stand equally in need of Christ's grace. Consider what the Lord told his disciples at the meal he shared with them the night before his death: Do this in remembrance of me. Indeed our whole lives--past, present, and future--should be lived and understood within the framework of this redemptive memory. We should do everything in memory of him.
A friend of mine spent many years praying with people for the healing of memories. At times it would become obvious that demonic influences had been at work in the person's past. Rather than carrying on a dramatic deliverance ministry, attempting to identify the presence of evil spirits, he spent most of his time doing what he called "praying the gospel into people's hearts." He knew that even the most horrific memories could be healed when people began to believe and take hold of what God had already done for them.
Kurt is a single father whose teenage son has been diagnosed with a severe mood disorder. Despite therapy and medication, his son still has meltdowns, making their home feel like an emotional war zone. Here's how Kurt describes his son:
"Mark is a constant challenge. Nothing pleases him, he is quick to overreact, and is always arguing with his sister. He's so impulsive that I can't leave the two of them alone for fear that Mark will get upset and do something stupid or dangerous. Believe me, I love my son, but to be honest, I wish I could send him to boarding school or place him in suspended animation for a little while just so that our lives could calm down."
Though tempted to despair, Kurt has repeatedly decided to interpret his family situation within the framework of the redemptive story he believes in. He finds solace and courage from the story of how God led his people out of Egypt, believing that he will also lead him and his son to a place of greater peace. Refusing to give in to hopelessness, he chooses instead to believe that the God who raised Jesus from the dead is able to redeem his son as well.
Remembering rightly is a powerful tool for dealing with both the past and the present, freeing us to move into the future with greater freedom and hope. Each of us is called to interpret our own life story in light of the larger story we believe in. Because nothing is impossible for God, he can take the evil we have suffered and the pain that still afflicts us and make them into something good, for ourselves and others. If we ask his Spirit to be at work within us, he will teach us to remember rightly, reshaping our memories into a force for good and a pathway for peace.