On Remembering

It's one of Jesus's most enigmatic statements: "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32).

Mrs. Lot is a minor character in the Old Testament. We don't know her name. Nor do we know what was in her heart. Some say she was thoughtlessly disobedient when God said "don't look back" at the burning Sodom, while others believed she looked back with regret at the destruction of a city whose paganism she'd grown to appreciate.

Nevertheless, it's healthy most of the time for us to remember many things.

We're in a season of remembering. Memorial Day was established after the Civil War as a time to honor the war dead. Now we use it to remember a larger number. And we'll remember the 74th anniversary of D-Day on June 6 and the brave troops who secured a beachhead in Europe. My Uncle Raymond was a glider pilot ferrying troops on D-Day when the glider casualty rate was 90 percent.

The red stripe in the American flag represents the blood of heroes whose gallantry secured the freedoms we enjoy.

We should also remember with gratitude the host of men and women who shaped our lives and whose fingerprints are yet on our souls. Those raised in church recall Bible teachers, youth workers, deacons and pastors who took time to show us the way to God.

And we think of school teachers who taught us to love learning and shared with us wisdom from their lives.

A man recalled the positive influence of a middle-school teacher after many years and decided to write her a letter. She responded: "Your letter came on a cold, dreary day and cheered me as nothing else in so long. In fact, yours is the only letter of gratitude I ever received in over 40 years of teaching."

We should remember our loved ones who've passed on. The stories of their lives "fill in the blanks" and help us know who we are. We remember their good and seek to follow, and we remember their bad and seek wisdom.

As Christians we believe we live for Christ, and at death, we are "with Christ" (Philippians 1:21). Heaven is many things, but it's also a time of reunion.

We also remember the sacrifice of Jesus. He gave us an ordinance whose purpose is to remember his broken body and shed blood. His death is the central doctrine in the New Testament and the foundation of all we do as his church.

Remembering the sacrifice of Jesus is a lesson in humility, for there's nothing we've done to deserve or earn our salvation. As the old hymn states, "In my hand no price I bring, simply to thy cross I cling."