We pulled out family videos over the holidays. There was a lot of “helping” by older children–especially when it came to opening gifts. And we sat through the infamous “Family Olympics” in the backyard. “You mean all we did was run in circles?” one of the girls asked as she watched her dad give instructions and they raced to win. “I was so cute!” another observed.
Years ago an orphanage missionary gave this advice, “Parents, make memories your children can return to.” He pointed out that we have a responsibility as stewards to create pleasant memories. When our children grow up and have a hard day at work, a difficult marriage or financial burdens, what do they have in their memory bank? He asked, “Have you created a place of comfort and joy they can find? A place that reminds them of the beauty and rest of God?”
How often we forget God made a place of love and acceptance for us. It’s recorded in the Bible, and we’re meant to revisit it daily. The memory is this: God sent Jesus.
I have a hard time imagining the limitations, struggles and trials of life for Jesus–God in a body. He was placed in a real body living under fallen, human authority (i.e. real parents) in poverty and under governmental tyranny. After living a perfect life and declaring Himself to the world, He suffered and died, offering His life for ours. He took God’s punishment for our sin to fully pay the price of our treason against the Lord of the Universe. Then He rose again, demonstrating God’s complete acceptance of our debt.
What an amazing memory! What an incredible place to return and revisit! And it is ours. When we struggle to love our enemies, we can think on God’s love for us in Jesus. When we endure a difficult marriage, financial burdens, the weight of poor choices–we have a safe place, a place of forgiveness, hope, peace, and wisdom. We are not alone.
We may or may not have fond family memories. We may or may not be living out and creating wonderful memories–but we can return to the safest, most comforting, wonderful memory of all and find everything that is lacking in this fallen, human world. And, as we gaze on Jesus, we will change.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV)
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:1-17 ESV)
Written by Sydney Millage