“Recall it as often as you wish, a happy memory never wears out,” once observed the mysterious quoter with the pseudonym, Libbie Fudim.
Indeed memories, “can warm you up from the inside,” as the Japanese author, Haruki Murakami once wrote.
And then one of my favorite quotes by author Kevin Arnold, “Memory is the way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.”
On this Memorial Day Weekend, I am filled with many memories. Wonderful memories. Blessed Memories. Precious Memories.
As we are preparing to move on to the next phase of our lives and ministry, I think of the brethren here at West Main that we’ve called our church home for the past two years. I’m reminded of Paul’s statement to the Philippian brethren, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Phil 1:3). They have been so gracious. Welcoming. Kind. Generous. And supportive of our work. What happy memories we take away from North Texas.
Honestly, as I reflect back over the years of local work in Ohio, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri, there are good memories. Too often preachers focus on some mistreatment or slight received from brethren. In the big picture, those incidents are few and far between. We have been blessed by brethren who cared for us and supported us spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially.
I fondly remember so many gospel preachers who’ve gone on to their reward who made a difference in my life. Aude McKee. Robert Jackson. James P. Miller. Roy Cogdill. Homer Hailey. Clinton Hamilton. James R. Cope. And Paul Andrews. These men left a legacy that lives on in the lives of so many of us..
My memories also take me back to my boyhood days and visiting little country cemeteries on Memorial Day in Mace, Indiana, and Round Hill, Kentucky. I recall going to the grave sites of my maternal and paternal grandparents. Flowers gently placed on a grave. Moments of silence. A tear wiped away. But always stories told with happy memories of the departed loved ones.
Unfortunately Norma Jean and I will not be able to visit the graves of our loved ones in Florida and Indiana. But they are in our memory. Our parents, grandparents, and siblings that have passed on hold a special place in our hearts. We don’t have to visit the cemetery to feel the emotions of honor, respect, and appreciation.
One of the great blessings of life is fondly reflecting on the lives of those who have gone on to their reward. The wise man wrote, “The memory of the righteous is a blessing” (Prov. 10:7). The Psalmist expressed it this way: “A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance” (Ps 112:5-6).
As I reflect on the lives of my loved ones, it’s not about memories of material possessions, financial success or earthly achievement, but about relationships. Shared times together. And especially a spiritual legacy passed on from both my father and mother.
I pray that the spiritual legacy we received will live on in our children, and now our grandchildren. I can do nothing about the lives of my friends and loved ones who have gone on. The good or bad of their lives is forever sealed. But I can do something about my life. My decisions. My legacy.
Memorial day also reminds me of my own mortality. Indeed death is an appointment we all must keep. My Mom often said, “You know, we’re not put on this earth to live forever.” So, what kind of legacy will I leave? What memories will be shared? What heritage will be passed on?
And so on this memorial day, may each of us reflect on various memories that we hold dear, let us begin it with a renewed commitment to live “soberly, righteously and godly in this present world.”
When it comes to the time of our departure, may we leave a rich spiritual heritage with good memories that are a blessing to those who know us.
In the word of the Tennessee hymnist, J.F.B. Wright.
Precious memories, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred past unfolds
Precious memories how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness, of the midnight
Precious sacred scenes unfold
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
(Note: ThePreachersWord will take a short break on Memorial Day Monday)