When We Forget What We Had Been

Imagine this if you will: The man was not just plain angry; he was fuming mad. He had been wallowing in the pond of his displeasure for weeks on end. What caused it? A group of people—his own brethren at church— did not heed his advice or belittled his suggestions. That was all. That set him off to perform this vengeful act— an act that could show them how displeased he was! What was it? Withhold from this people the privilege of using the church songbooks. Let them find their own. They deserve no help from him.

You would not believe it if you just heard it, not until you saw it with your own eyes. You would not mind it if it was just the church janitor, or the brother of the church janitor.

You would not mind either if the man was just a little boy having tantrums. But you would mind if it was a fifty-year old administrator, holder of education and Bible degrees, and president of a Bible college, a teacher of the Bible. You would mind if he wanted to punish his own brethren by not letting them use the church songbooks. You would even mind even if he was not their minister, or your minister.

What made the man change? Back in the old days, he had instituted a program to help church couples undergoing marital troubles. Now he was not too helpful.

How some good men degenerated into a wacko is beyond one’s comprehension. Or why some people carry a Bible in their hands and chips on their shoulders is also beyond comprehension.

It goes without saying that the imbibing of the Word will work toward the reviving of the soul. As we go about effecting change in people’s lives, we carry in our hands the book that could effect that change. A Book inspired by God’s Spirit, it could set man further on the road to spiritual completion (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is the Book that invites every man to abandon petty lives on earth. It is the Book that makes him fit for the life beyond.

Some say it was pride that had gone into the man’s head. The man was used to having his way in church. And that was a problem.

Has that man not been a beneficiary of the goodness of God and of men in the past? Supported by a brotherhood of good men. Owned four cars. Lived in an exclusive subdivision. But he had forgotten all these. And it is when we start forgetting—forgetting how bad we had been and how good God was in adopting us through Jesus—that we also start wallowing in the mud of pettiness.

Contrast that man with this one:

A “Dear Abby” column of December 2 mentions about a certain Marilyn Irlbacher of Nashua, New Hampshire, telling the advice columnist of an event that took place when she was a little girl. In her own words, she was then “living in a less-than-caring foster home” and “worried about the 50 cents” that she owed her school library for several lost books. If she could not pay that debt, she could not get her report card. Having been told that, tears fell from her eyes. And having no money, and terrified about asking from her foster parents, she fled both school and home. Running down the street, she bumped into a tall stranger.

The stranger asked her why she was crying, and she told him. The man reached into his purse, took out two quarters, and said, “Things will be all right now.” The act was kind and the voice seemed even kinder.

Overjoyed because of the help of a stranger, Marilyn paid for the lost books, and got her report card. Shortly after that, she left the foster home—her mother took her back to live with her. This incident happened in 1942, when the world was at war. It was also a time of depression. In those days, 50 cents was a lot of money.

Marilyn told the advice columnist that “to this day, every act of generosity I perform, every dime I give to a cause, is in honor of that man. I don’t remember his face. I only recall his brown shoes, which I saw first when I ran into him. His kindness to a crying child made all the difference in my life.”

The above story about Marilyn was lifted from Dr. Rubel Shelly’s blog. Thanks, brother Shelly. To visit Dr. Shelly’s blog, click here.

We could also forget what we had been. Perhaps we need some bumping too into some stranger, or into something strange, in order for us to be reawakened, or for us to remember. Like that man I know from childhood memory, who once bumped into a strange woman, and got infected by that strange woman’s disease. Sick and dying of STD, he remembered how faithless he had been to his marriage vows, to a wife who remained faithful in spite of his faithlessness.

If you were New York governor Spitzer, you expect to be “spitzered.” This too we must remember.

This article is to encourage each one of us to remember the kindnesses we have received, that we may not forget to be kind. Remember that we have been forgiven, that we may not forget to forgive. Remember that we are meant for heaven, that we may not wallow in the mud of our earthly pettiness. Remember God’s loving kindness that we may show loving kindness to others also.

Remember what we had been.

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