“Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me” (Psalm 103:2, NLT).
I ran my hands gently across the surface of the dining room table. I’d been so protective of that table when we first purchased it, wanting desperately to preserve its pristine appearance for a lifetime. My fingers caught on a knick in the wood, and I lingered momentarily remembering when that table bore its first scar, a day when my stepfather used the table as a ladder to reach a light fixture. While the table was strong, his weight had the final say. The table morphed into a springboard flipping him flat onto his back.
Thankfully, he only suffered a few sore spots. I knew my stepdad’s body would soon rebound, but the table would bear the marks forever. The table held stories and now had the marks to prove it.
I continued examining the stories etched into the grains of the wood. I paused when my fingers reached the bright green paint, filling the wood grain cracks. I ineffectively scratched again with my fingernail. I remembered the day a little girl, an orphan we hosted for a summer, sat at that table. I watched her face, full of peace, paints spread over the table, as she created a masterpiece. She proudly dipped each of our hands in paint then pressed them onto the canvas, leaving our marks, writing our names on our handprints. She wanted to dip the dog’s paws, but I said no for fear of the enormous mess it would potentially create. We left the canvas on the table to dry while we ran errands. Hours later we arrived home to find a trail of green paw prints leading the way to the table. I guess the dog wanted to leave her mark as well, and she had climbed onto the table and trotted across the canvas, successfully leaving her mark on both the canvas and the table. The table had more stories to tell.
Finally, my fingers reached the circular grooves cut deep into the wood. Circles round and round and round, beginning small, growing bigger until a beautiful picture of interlocked circles remained. I remembered my son creating his own masterpiece with pen and paper, bearing down hard on paper with nothing between paper and table then removing the paper as he proudly called me over to see what he’d made. The two of us laughed as we realized he had a created a work that went deeper than paper and would remain with us forever.
With each mark left on that table, my grip loosened on the outer picture of life. The one meant for staged magazines. With each mark, the Lord reminded me the stories of lives lived fully are treasures worth holding and remembering.
My hands stopped moving, and I stole a glance at my husband and middle son sitting now at this 15 year old table. The souls the Lord has blessed my life with. These stories intertwined with mine. So many stories are marked into that table I once wanted to look perfect forever. A perfect table tells a boring story. A table dinged, scratched, and chipped tells a story unlike any other.
Every single moment of our life is touched by God, our Creator and the lover of our soul. He’s writing a story in us. Sometimes these moments leave green paint marks behind to remind us. Sometimes they etch themselves into the crevices of our hearts so we don’t forget. Sometimes they create circles linked with the circles of another. Sometimes they leave marks unseen by the naked eye; always a reminder of His love for us, His constant care and affection, His faithfulness and strength, His tenderness.
As I sat remembering that afternoon, I felt a deep sense of joy and gladness over the moments of my life God brought to mind. I should spend more time remembering. Remembering the stories written on my soul. Remembering reminds my heart to praise.
Remembering is a reminder. It reminds us who God is. We remember what He does, which hints at who He is.
It’s in the remembering that praise breaks free. If I remember more, praise will escape. It must escape.
My praise magnifies my God. My praise honors and glorifies my Maker. My praise diminishes my sorrow and heartache and reminds me who He is. My praise echoes truth into my heart. My praise raises my eyes to where my help comes from.
The stories He leaves in our souls deserve to be remembered; they deserve to be glorified; they deserve to be shared. The stories need not remain hidden under a tablecloth only to be remembered at special occasions. They should be remembered daily, constantly, never stopping.
The stories aren’t supposed to be perfect, but if we are looking, they point us back to a God who is.
“I will praise You every day; I will honor Your name forever and ever” (Psalm 145:2, HCSB).
Recently, my nine-year-old son approached me with a look of deep contemplation. He held close to his chest a family photo album. “Mom, sometimes, when I look back at this, I just want to cry.”
I finished placing the towels in the linen closet, closed the door gently, and looked at his eyes. “Why is that?”
“Well, I just see Andrew in these pictures and how sweet he looks and then I feel bad for all the times I’m mean as a big brother to him. It makes me want to treat him kinder.” He paused as he looked at the floor, then looked back at me. “I don’t really know how to put this into words.”
I nodded my understanding. I knew exactly what he meant and how he felt. Remembering seems to restore something that can feel broken at times. It puts a missing piece back into place. Daily life can chip away at our souls, leaving jagged edges that tear at us and those around us. But when we spend time remembering, we are taken to a point in time that heals our wounded souls. It reminds us of the goodness of life. It guides us back on track.
When my son looks at those photo albums, he lives again the stories told through pictures. In the remembering, he is washed by love, family, truth, grace, and forgiveness. Stories do that.
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deuteronomy 4:9, NIV).
Remembering holds the power to soothe our souls, to caress our wounds, and place a smile back in our hearts. Sometimes remembering is all we need to shift our perspective. To take our focus off ourselves, our trials, our frustrations. Remembering is needed to unlock the gate in the soul. Once the gate is opened, God begins the process of healing and restoration.