Taking a trip down memory lane can be more than just a pleasant diversion; it can be an insightful journey.
I had set out on a particular task and, in the course of pursing that goal, came upon a picture holder filled with photos of my senior classmates. It didn’t take long to be transported back to a time of youthful dreams and relationships.
I slipped the pictures out of their sleeve one by one and read the sentiments written on the back. Personalities began to fill my mind. These were the friends of my youth; precious people who were facing the bittersweet moments of leaving behind the familiar for the unknown. I wondered what life had handed them in the decades that followed and, in my nostalgia, was struck by a desire for their well-being. Perhaps it arose from the images of two classmates that had met with self-inflicted tragedy. I never knew why, but I did know that no one sets out for destruction. So the question surfaced. Could we have made a difference in some way?
It’s possible that age heightens the realization that life is a gift. I don’t know. But as I gazed on each face and read their parting words, I was touched with a deep sense of the intrinsic worth of each one. Some had moved to far off places, some remained close to their nativity and others were not with us anymore. A few friendships remained, but most faded as we parted ways.
It made me wonder if we comprehend the importance of our daily encounters. There is a host of people with whom we will have only a temporary relationship and our interactions can work for good or evil. Perhaps that is why the Bible instructs us to guard the manner in which we engage with one another.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but for the interest of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:3-5
It really is a choice. We can be callous or kind, selfish or generous, thoughtless or respectful. We can ignore suffering or offer compassion, contribute to confusion or speak with reason, pass the hurting or share encouragement. How we engage will be determined by what fills our minds. If it is the values of the world, lesser behaviors will prevail. If it is The Word of God, the love and truth that is Christ will be our influence. What if the people of God honestly sought to know The Word of God? What if we lived it?
So much of our destructive conduct is the result of neglecting the preeminent relationship we were designed to have with God through Jesus Christ. His Presence affects all other relationships. Think that is an overstatement? Not according to Jesus. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40 KJV
I thought back to my high school days and the handful of pictures that were in front of me. We came from varied backgrounds. Some were admired and some were ignored. Some were accomplished and some struggled. All had a desire to belong and hoped for lives that held meaning. We had been created with such a longing and its fulfillment rested in God, though few knew that. Beyond the school doors, the same was true.
Jesus’ words make me wonder how transformed a people we would be if we were truly obedient to His counsel. The stability that would shape our homes, schools, businesses, communities and government would be astounding if we applied the principle of wholly loving God and desiring to love others as He has loved us. We seem to stop our ears at this proclamation because, let’s face it, it’s hard. Loving others doesn’t come naturally. And that’s the whole point. We are prone to respond to life based on the dictates of our feeling rather than the foundation of God’s Word. His Word is Truth and that is meant to be our guide.
As I slipped pictures back into their sleeves, a closing sentiment repeated itself: RMA “Remember Me Always”. That was the hope ~ that our lives mattered that much. Little did we understand, they already did. The Christ who bore the cross had all our faces in mind at Calvary and, in His triumph over the grave, He promised all who receive Him as Savior that, not only does He remember us always, but He is preparing a place of unimaginable joy where loving God and loving each other will finally be our nature.
The seasons of life move quickly and they will be shared with some for a brief time and others for a lifetime. Either way, His commands apply. Living them would do us all a world of good.