R…. What words could possibly make us tear up that start with the Letter R?
Rejection…… Rumors….. Ripping…… Rain……Rebuke…. Rebellion…..Remember…..Remission….. Repentance….. Restoration…… Rainbow….. Reconciliation….
Remember…… AKA….. Memories….
I was sitting outside a few weeks ago watching my Grandaughter….Payton… run around the yard with her little butterfly net…. catching Lightening Bugs. She was having so much fun!
I would cheer her on as well as point her in the direction of the next flashing light that would be on for such a brief second…. and off again. Hurry…. and wait!
My eyes began to be directed toward the landscape across my front yard and into the neighbors across the street when I saw it….. Ohhhhhh how I cried! Look how beautiful all of those flashing yellow lights were as they lit up my yard! I began to thank God for the beauty…. for His awesome plan for a little bug with a light attached to its back side… to bring peace… to a dark still summer evening…. like a huge Christmas Tree that twinkles on a winters night…..! He doesn’t miss one single little detail in His Glorious painting of our world here on Earth!
We began to venture now into the backyard, since her very presence and wild movement from here to there had thinned out the population of the blinking little bugs. The back yard was a much … much larger hunting ground which meant she ran more…. and I sauntered. I walked over to a tree that was there and began to reminiscing the day we planted that tree! Colin…. my youngest was about 3-4 months old and the tree… well… stretched out beside it… they were nearly the same length.
Colin had a nickname of Grunt… (because as a new born he “grunted” as he lay in his bassinet) so…. the tree officially became known as “the Grunt Tree”! Now…. Colin is 21 and that tree…. well… it is HUGE…. and … Beautiful!
Life seemed so good then! I had a husband…. a new healthy baby…..Justin… my oldest was a happy 12 year old. I had a nice home to live in… and even though my Dad had Cancer….I still had both ….my Mom and my Dad. Oh…. the “good old days”!
.As I continued to sauntered …. I found myself reflecting on years past…. This very yard had hosted MANY summer memories of not only Lightening Bug catching… but neighborhood Chicago Softball games… Slip-N-Slide…..Rope swing…. Bike Ramps….scrapes and bruises. Clothes hanging on the line to dry in the hot summer air…. Sun tea brewing on the sidewalk… and sitting in the yard swing…slowly rocking ….back ….and forth watching everything…. and nothing at all!
I looked up…. and there… there in the western sky is that moon! That same exact moon … and that same exact planet that I have looked at for the past 26 years from nearly the same exact spot I would stand…. gazing at the wonder of how big the sky really is…. and how truly magnificent my God is!! So much in my life has changed since I first noticed that moon and planet formation in my backyard….. and yet…. THEY never changed! Still…. firmly positioned in the very place God set them in so many years ago!
Once again…. I felt more Tears slip down my cheek !
After Payton went home with her dad.. I thought if was necessary to record the Lightening Bug experience as my status on my Facebook page.
My Step Daughter Sarah….who was the same age as my son Justin … chimed in! She remembered those days in that very same yard…. chasing Lightening Bugs… and longed for the simple life we all took for granted at the time. Times …that went by way too quickly!
One of my cousins commented on the post by reminding me of us doing the same thing when we were kids. We would get together… have BBQ’s…. Homemade Ice Cream…and then us kids… would catch Lightening Bugs and play night tag while our parents would sit at the table playing Pitch… Pinochle or Canasta!
Not of course a whole new set of memories begin to make their way through my mind and my heart of all the wonderful people in my life that are now …. gone.
My Dad…. all of my Grandparents…. Aunts… Uncles…. Cousins….. Friends! So many memories… laughter… heartaches…. flood my mind to once again start the Tears to flow!
Memories can be good… .they can bring Tears of sadness as well as joy.
Memories are supposed to be a place to visit…. not to live in! If we try to live in our memories, we will miss our here and now and then years from now…. the memories we would have made will have been non existent… or… they will be full of sadness, anger and regret.
Can we learn from our memories?
Look at Peter….
Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, …..
Lets back up….to the reference that set up the memory.
Luke 22: 31-34 Amp
31 “Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has demanded permission to sift[all of] you like grain; 32 but I have prayed [especially] for you [Peter],that your faith [and confidence in Me] may not fail; and you, once you have turned back again [to Me], strengthen and support your brothers[in the faith].” 33 And Peter said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death!” 34 Jesus said, “I say to you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will [utterly] deny three times that you know Me.”
Peter was so bold in declaring that Jesus didn’t have anything to worry about with him, because his faith… his belief in Him was so strong …. so firm…. that he was ready to go with Him to prison and to death! ….. and yet…. when Jesus was arrested… and put in “prison”…. on trial…. and the chants in the crowd were to put Him to “death”… his flesh got the better of him and he did exactly what Jesus told him he would do! Not once…. Not twice…. but 3 times Peter denied he ever even knew Him… and instantly…. when the rooster crowed….Jesus turned and looked at him…. which triggered the memory of that very moment … just a few short verses earlier.
The next verse….. Luke 22:62 is the verse I want to focus more on …. it says…. 62 And he went out and wept bitterly [deeply grieved and distressed].
Peter… was so repentant that he went out and wept bitterly!!! It hurt him deeply that he had betrayed Jesus…. by doing something that was totally opposite of what he had told Jesus He would do! The reality of the situation he found himself in made him give way to the flesh. The memory of that evening…. brought change from that moment forward and we know from the Word what Peter did to further the Gospel and to do exactly what Jesus said….to strengthen and support your brothers[in the faith].
Judas on the other hand…. had a much different outcome.
I started to read his account in Matthew 27 but decided to back up a few verses to get a running start at this passage starting with Matthew 26 verse 6…. Now when Jesus was [back] in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very expensive perfume and she poured it on Jesus’ head as He reclined at the table. 8 But when the disciples saw it they were indignant and angry, saying, “Why all this waste [of money]? 9 For this perfume might have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware [of the malice] of this [remark], said to them, “Why are you bothering the woman? She has done a good thing to Me. 11 For you always have the poor with you; but you will not always have Me. 12 When she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 13 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, wherever this gospel [of salvation] is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her [for her act of love and devotion].”
Now look at the very next 2 verses….. 14 Then one of the twelve [disciples], who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand Jesus over to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment Judas began looking for an opportune time to betray Jesus.
Could that have been the “last straw” for Judas…. who happened to be the keeper of the money bag? Could he have been caught up in a greedy flesh moment that he went to the chief priests to get back at Jesus for being so wasteful… or… by keeping him from an opportunity to line his own pockets with a good deal of coins?
Judas’ betrayal was intentional…. and although I can’t see the word “Remember” in the verses about him…. I am sure when he Realized what they were actually going to do to Jesus … to crucify Him… His memory of words spoken… deeds He did for others…. kindness shown to him… like washing his feet during the last supper…. or…. was he remembering the words Jesus said at the very moment Jesus confronted him about his intended betrayal in verse 24!
Matthew 26: 20-21 20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. 21 And as they were eating, He said, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you that one of you will betray Me.” 22 Being deeply grieved and extremely distressed, each one of them began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 Jesus answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the bowl with Me [as a pretense of friendship] will betray Me.24 The Son of Man is to go [to the cross], just as it is written [in Scripture] of Him; but woe (judgment is coming) to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.” 25 And Judas, the betrayer, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.”
The Amplified Bible describes his “remorse” in Matthew 27:3 like this….
3 When Judas, His betrayer, saw that [Jesus] was condemned, [Judas was afflicted in mind and troubled for his former folly; and] with remorse [with little more than a selfish dread of the consequences] he brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. They replied, What is that to us? See to that yourself. 5 And casting the pieces of silver [forward] into the [Holy Place of the sanctuary of the] temple, he departed; and he went off and hanged himself.
The memory Judas had of …but woe (judgment is coming) to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born brought fear of consequences…. not true remorse and repentance…. and it made him take his own life….which may… or may not have been in Gods plan for his life.
Memories…. God gave us the ability to remember….. and quoting a scene from Lion King…When Rafiki finds Simba in the Jungle and tries to get him to come home…. but Simba is not sure…
He says…. I know what I have to do. But going back means I’ll have to face my past. I’ve been running from it for so long.
and then Rafiki hits Simba on the head with his stick!
Simba says…… Ow! Jeez, what was that for?
…. and Rafiki replies…..It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past.
Simba confirms that …… Yeah, but it still hurts.
Rafiki then gives the best line ever when he says……
Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.
Memories indeed can be a great stroll through happy days… but it can also be a long …. dark … lonely road of fear and regret….
Its your choice…. God ….has given us a way to set things right in 1st John 1:9….NLT But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
And then….take what was said by Rafiki…. and LEARN from it!!!