Reminding and Remembering

My father-in-law has Alzheimer’s and on a particular day of yard sale preparation, we had already been over many of the same conversations several times. No, the sale isn’t today. Yes, we wanted to sell x, y, or z items. No, Chris and I aren’t living in Branson anymore. Yes, we had eaten lunch.

So when he came out of the office with something to show me, my expectations were really quite low. In his hand was a small stone engraved with a message he read aloud for me, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

I expected him to say we needed to keep it, not to sell it. But his next words brought tears to my eyes. “I know this. Let’s sell it for someone else to learn.” In this moment, I am reminded that our lives here on earth are so fleeting and it is not uncommon to lose mental capacity as we age. My father-in-law spent his working life as an army chaplain and then as a minister. Through his career and his life, scripture became seared into his mind and even this disease isn’t taking it away from him. Much of his memories are fading and mixed up, but this truth remains. And what a beautiful thing to still have in his memories the truth of Jesus Christ and his saving grace.

While John 3:16 is one of a few I know by heart, I realize that I should and could memorize many more scriptures. From this small conversation with my father-in-law, I am reminded both of the temporary nature of life and the importance of hope we have in Christ. The words of God can be a source of great comfort and a reminder of truth, even as memory fails.

Two verses come to mind: Deuteronomy 11:18 and Song of Solomon 8:6. In Deuteronomy, God commands his people to, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds.” God’s words should be foremost in our hearts, represented by action, but also to guide, remind, and comfort our minds. Misty Edwards sings a song called, “You Won’t Relent,” in which she quotes Song of Solomon 8:6, “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death.” I’ve loved her song for years and the words came to mind tonight. In Song of Solomon, the bride is asking for a stamp or seal so as to be united and a possession of her husband. The word of God can be imprinted onto our hearts, showing that we belong to him.

The second point I want to acknowledge is that my father-in-law recognized that he already knew the truth presented in John 3.16, so we should sell the trinket and through that pass on the truth. We both already knew the truth of Christ, so let’s pass on that great joy to others. And honestly, during our garage sale when he dragged people over to look at the table full of Christian trinkets, I was slightly annoyed. But with each customer, as he excitedly asked them questions about faith, love, and Christ, I was reminded that we already know and so we must share that knowledge.

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