Every day from the day of our birth until the day of our death we are making memories. Some of these happen simply as a result of our brains recording what each day holds for us. Other times we are more intentional about wanting to make a memory around something that might be a memorial marker for us whether that be a birthday, holiday, special place, or special achievement.
Most of us don’t think much about this collection of things tucked into our memories as children but each decade we have a bigger scrapbook to review and that might be what causes us to also become more intentional about them. Older adults have a wealth of memories of every type and variety, a veritable gold mine. Sometimes as they age, they may get a bit mixed up and yet these stories give testament to the life they have lived.
One of my favorite memories is that of being gathered at my parents’ table as a family and as the meal was ending asking my dad a question that would invariably get him involved with telling a story from his childhood or youth. Those times around the table near the end of his life are a treasure trove, things I would never have known or learned since he was a humble quiet man who didn’t take much time talking about himself.
Those stories became a significant part of his legacy and I often think that I wished we would have asked more questions earlier than we did. There were many stories we likely did not hear. For the 52 years I enjoyed having him as my dad, there are other things I remember about him beyond the stories, but they all condense into what I most revered – his character, his integrity, his faith.
I sometimes wonder now what legacy of memories others might have of me as I am older.
As I have been looking at David’s life in 1 and 2 Samuel over the past few weeks, I wonder what you see as his legacy in all the stories we looked at. Perhaps you think of his courage with Goliath, his gift as a poet and singer, his failure as a parent, or his fall into sin with Bathsheba. All those were markers on his timeline, but was there a theme in them that is the primary thing to take away from his life?
“The single most characteristic thing about David is God. David believed in God, thought about God, imagined God, addressed God, prayed to God. The largest part of David’s existence wasn’t David but God.”Eugene Peterson
What a legacy to have said about a person! And it comes about an earthy man whose life (not unlike our own) was one of honorable character at some points and other times when it was not good. Few characters in the Bible have as much written about the whole of their lives as David so we get a good bit of the timeline to consider. What during all that condenses into this observation by Eugene Peterson? How can that be a model for living more intentionally?
There could be several things you or others might list, but some of those Eugene Peterson notes in Leap Over a Wall are clues to understanding.
“David noticed what was everywhere around him; and the more he noticed, the more he noticed God. David was a theologian – a God noticer, a God namer – of the best kind, noticing and naming God in the immediacy of revelation and experience.
And virtually everything David noticed and named about God, he prayed. Nothing in or about God was left on the shelf to be considered at a later time or to be brought up for discussion when there was leisure for it. God was personal and present and required a response…”Eugene Peterson
And therein is a key for us to make note of. The times and pace we live in can easily result in us failing to notice a great many things. We barely breathe from one thing we are doing to the next and much of the time our focus is on one device or another to show us about the world or information or tools we need. We take hundreds upon hundreds of pictures with our phones, but do we miss what we are looking at because we are so busy looking through the lens that we aren’t present in the moment? It’s in the moment we discover God revealing Himself to us in a myriad of ways, but that requires we must be present in the moment, in the experience.
“God doesn’t reveal reality so that we can stand around and look at it as spectators but so we can enter it and become at home in it.”Eugene Peterson
Perhaps David is reminding us of that in the following Psalm:
“You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”Psalm 16:11 (NIV)
John reminds us of that in John 10:10:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”John 10:10 (NIV)
What are we allowing to rob us of the life the Lord offers and desires for us?
“We won’t get an accurate sense of how the Christian life works if we fail to assess the conditions, or avoid facing the conditions. Conditions: weather, soil, money, racial feelings and class rivalries, tribal traditions and social customs…”Eugene Peterson
David lived fully being present to God during the conditions of his day which was the Iron Age and yet as we read his story, we don’t notice the conditions but rather we notice what David notices in the midst of those conditions and that is God.
Maybe that is what is most important for us to consider. During the dark and turbulent times in which we live, the conditions should not be the focus above what we notice about God in the midst of those conditions. Therein will be the key to hope as we discover He is right there in the conditions. He wants us to notice Him there and remember Him.