One of God’s greatest gifts is memory. If you have lived long enough, you have discovered that it can be both a blessing and a curse! Spurgeon said that “by some strange perversity we tend to remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember.” How easily we remember every hurt we have endured and how quickly we forget how good God has been to us.
Perhaps your short term memory is better than your long term memory; or maybe your long term memory is clearer than your short term memory. Some days we feel as if we have no memory at all! The most important memory is our remembrance of the Lord. (For more on strengthening your Christian memory muscle read “Improving Your Spiritual Memory.”)
Praise God that our Savior does not forget HIs promises or His children (Isaiah 49:15-16)! Likewise, we are thankful that He has chosen to forget our sins (Hebrews 8:12). And He knew how forgetful we would be…so He gave us the Memorial Supper, the written Word, and the visible fellowship of believers to aid in our regular remembrance.
Yet memory is not only spiritual – it is practical. Life is full of relationships, duty, and necessities that must be remembered. This is where we all struggle!
All of us are busy. It is easy to be so distracted and overwhelmed by life that we allow important things to slip. Occasionally people have asked me how I work at remembering things. Allow me to give a couple suggestions that have been of help to me:
- Write it down. The truth is that none of us can remember everything that needs to be done! Why do you think our perfect God did not leave the transmission of His truth to oral communication? He wrote it down for us! The Bible is God’s memory book to help us remember what is essential. If you want to identify, prioritize and remember vital matters then write it down! “A short pencil is better than a long memory.” In my experience, I think of other things as I begin to write. Your mind works as your pen (or computer) moves. Writing things down frees your memory bank to process other things.
- Do it now. If something is of tremendous importance then take some action on it immediately. I personally like to begin my day with some small project that I can actually finish. This gets me moving and helps me to attack other things that need to be done. As surely as there will be things that need to be written down, pondered, and prepared for, there will be things that you can complete immediately. Don’t put it off. If you can take some initial step it will help you not to forget.
- Keep it simple. Everyone’s mind works differently but don’t overcomplicate life. Organize your work. Build the people and things that are important into the regular flow of life. Schedule definite times and give attention to what matters. Some areas of life will be more complex than others, but you can keep it simple by viewing everything you have to do as part of your God given assignment at this time. The aging process and health issues can affect memory. While these are beyond our control, we can give attention to what we can control. No one can remember everything at once but God! So build structure into your life that will help you to think about specific things – one at a time.
One final word. I have learned that my mind works better when my heart is in tune with God. Give attention to what is important to God and He will help you with every other area (Matthew 6:33). Depend on the Holy Spirit who lives in you to prompt you and be ready to listen. When you walk with God moment by moment He brings order and clarity to life.