This past weekend was my high school reunion. I didn’t attend.
There was a time that I would have attended, indeed, I did attend the last reunion. But I’ve just finished looking through 141 pictures posted on Facebook from this past weekend and I am reminded why I have no place attending.
Not that it wouldn’t have been good to see everyone. Not that it wouldn’t have been “fun”. But in truth, those days are not days that I reminisce upon with feelings of nostalgia and longing for the “good ‘ol days”. Not even close. They are days filled with uncertainty. With fear. With anger and confusion and alcoholism. Why would I want to relive those days?
The pictures from the reunion’s “festivities” I viewed were chock full of drinking. Of people “flipping” the cameras off, as if that was a very cool thing to do. Years later, and not much has changed. But I have changed. I am different. I am reminded of that tonight.
So all of this has me thinking about the act of “remembering”. There are many places in scripture where we are told to “remember”. One huge such instance is the Lord’s Supper–“Do This in Remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). In Isaiah 46:8-9, we are told to “remember the former things”:
8 “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me…”
But these kinds of “remembering” serve a purpose. They serve as a marker. A marker points to something much larger than itself. In these two cases above, the marker points to God Himself. We “mark” birthdays, because they point to another year of life. We mark anniversaries of events because another year has passed. In a few days, another year shall have passed for a difficult, tragic event in my life. How will I mark it? Will I mark it with sadness and grief? Yes, there is that. But I hope to mark it pointing to something much larger than that–and that is to mark it with acknowledgement of grace. Is this an easy thing to do? No. It is very hard to do, actually. But what is the purpose of remembering if not that in remembering we press forward to Home, where all that is lost will be made well again?
Which brings to mind a key scripture on this subject. Phil 3:13-16:
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
I used to look at verse 13 and 14 as overused. Cliche. But there are many verses I once classified as such, that, when really studied in context, it is revealed that they are far from being just that.
So tonight in thinking about class reunions and remembering, I am reminded that there are things to mark and things to forget. It does me no good–none whatsoever–to return to behavior of former days, though admittedly that remains a very real fight on some days. It does me no good to fondly look back on those days. They were not good days. They were hard days.
I love the image of “straining forward”, because that is it exactly. It is straining–“to exert to the utmost”–that’s exactly what it takes, at least in my experience, to move toward what lies ahead. To press on toward the goal of the prize.
This states that the prize is the “Upward of God in Christ Jesus”. What does that mean exactly? I’m not sure exactly, but what I’ve read in my Logos Study software is that it points toward Home. The ESV Study Bible has this to say about it:
The prize is the fullness of blessings and rewards in the age to come, most especially being in perfect fellowship with Christ forever.
So tonight I want to be sure that I am remembering the things that I am to remember, and properly forgetting what lies behind and somehow, some way pressing forward–straining forward, with everything I’ve got.
***Here’s a quote from C.S. Lewis regarding markers:
When we are lost in the woo the sight of a signpost is a great matter. He who first sees it cries, “Look!” The whole party gathers round and stares. But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the authority that set them up. But we shall not stop and stare, or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are of silver and their lettering of god. “We would be at Jerusalem.”