A secret to finding peace when you are in need of strength is using your precious memories to connect you to God’s peaceful, loving presence.
I grew up singing in small churches all over the state of Illinois. We sang a lot of the old Gospel songs and hymns from years past. One song that my dad would sing was “Precious Memories”. The chorus says, “Precious memories, how they linger, how they ever flood my soul. In the stillness of the midnight, precious, sacred scenes unfold.” Why “precious memories”? I ask, why not? The Apostle Paul says think on the good things:
“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise – dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8, HCSB)
1. Savor a precious memory in detail, connecting it to an object that’s rich in good memories
What brought this to mind was something my dad wrote to me in an email. My dad will send me emails randomly, but I have kept every single one because they are written in his unique way. The stories he recounts are precious to me because they are mostly good memories. I want to keep them as long as I can. One in particular stood out. Here is an excerpt:
“I am sitting here with a small afghan (Mother called it a “lapaghan”) made several years ago. There are 12 strips, 4 inches wide, crocheted together to make this “lapagan”. She originally made them with the idea they could be sold, but they were never sold. Instead, she gave them away as gifts and donated one to be raffled at the annual Alumni banquet as a fund raiser.
Mother was always involved in crafts. For years she went to her church every Thursday to quilt with other women. She was a member of the Home Bureau and they were always making something, crafty. She made clothes such as shirts and dresses. She quilted, crocheted, tatted, and fixed her boys’ jeans that needed new knee patches.
As I sit here and think about her talents I am amazed. She spent her last 8 years at the nursing home. Along the way someone gave her a hot pad holder made from plastic beads. She saw a flaw in the pattern, so she had me get the supplies she needed and she began to make beaded pot holders without the flaw. Again, they were given as gifts. The cost of the beads was minimal, but consumed many hours of her time; but each project had to be done just right.
Later as her fingers stiffened and her concentration was not good she tried to make another lapaghan. The results were not good and she asked me to find someone to finish her work.
Looking back as I sit here, warmed by the lapaghan Mother made, I am reminded of the thought and dedication that went in to the making of it. I think back fondly and it brings back many memories of home and family. Mother has been gone nearly 4 years and the love she put into the lapaghan is still warming me.”
Precious memories. A connection to the past. Warm thoughts, that wrap you in an embrace that is timeless and reminds us that we are not forgotten or alone. We are loved. God’s love is the same.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19, HCSB)
2. Use the precious memory to learn something about God.
God wants to wrap you up in a warm embrace. You won’t be able to comprehend how far God’s arms go around you, above you, behind you, beside you, above you, below you or in any direction you want to measure. He wants to be more than the “lapaghan”, He wants to cover you completely.
He calls us his children, because as a good father he wraps us up in arms of love…not necessarily to protect us, but to give us the inner strength to:
- get out of bed one more time
- do that homework project for one more hour
- do those extra sit-ups
- run that extra mile
- go back to the loathsome job
- drive to one more practice/rehearsal
- pack one more lunch
3. Use the precious memory to overcome fear.
Dear reader, God is not enabling you to sit and cower in fear. He is giving you the power to stand up and do something! The Apostle Paul’s prayer to the Ephesian church was for power:
“I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit,” (Ephesians 3:16, HCSB)
Mourn through the dark night of the soul! Cry out to God in desperation! Kneel before Him and beg forgiveness for your sins! Cry with the broken-hearted! Sit in sackcloth and ashes…just don’t stay there! Paul says to stand up! Put on your armor and take a stand:
“This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist evil in that day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.” (Ephesians 6:13, HCSB)
I look at my grandmother’s handiwork every day. It’s in the form of a quilt that covers my bed. Every stitch in it was done by her hands. Yes, the quilt keeps me warm on cold nights, but it is her enduring love that has prompted me many times to keep going. Her abiding love of Christ through her 90+ years lovingly pushed me to be nearer to Him.
4. Look for precious reminders about God everywhere.
We see God’s handiwork everywhere. Louie Giglio’s presentation titled “Indescribable” shows us God’s immense power and handiwork in the universe through Hubble telescope and Voyager Space probe images. We’re a blue speck in a bright beam of sunlight against the vastness of the Milky Way. We’re on the edge of the galaxy that is very small compared to the rest of the universe. He knows every star by name. He measures the universe with the span of his hand. The morning stars sing together to proclaim his majesty in the heavens.
Yet…he cares for us. For you and for me. Hold on to your precious memories. May they linger and encourage you in the dark of the night. However, may the love of God in Christ Jesus empower you to stand.
Pray with me: “Father, sometimes it is very hard to feel you near me. It’s hard to know you love me when my world is crashing down all around me. My heart and mind fight over whether or not you are real. I ask that your love would surround me and drive away the darkness in my soul and in my life. I need your light to shine through the darkness to my soul and fill me with your presence and your power. Help me to stand up and keep going. I’m asking you for this power because I have none on my own. The Bible says “the heavens declare the glory of God”. Please declare your glory in and through me. I need you so much and I cannot make it without you. In the name of your son, Jesus, I pray, amen.”
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Copyright David Shelton 2015. All rights reserved.