by Danny A. Hernaez
The key to wisdom is locked up in your memory. This living wisdom, not your achievements or net worth, becomes your legacy – your gift to the next generation. These collected memories make you a living testimony, or a dying breed. Whether you realize it or not, our memories are sacred things, fingerprints of God. From the beginning, God has placed them in our hearts for a purpose – to keep us wise.
Before God’s people entered the Promised Land, Moses spoke repeatedly about memories. “… be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (Deuteronomy 4:9)
Even when the unthinkable happened, Jeremiah urged the people to remember: “… my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I will remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him’.” (Lamentations 3:19-24).
When the struggling people felt discouraged and afraid, Nehemiah prayed: “They [Your people] refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.” (Nehemiah 9:16-18)
This stored wisdom packs a very important twist. It’s not about remembering the wandering, or victimhood, or suffering, or stubbornness, or how bad life is, or unfaithfulness. It is about remembering the sacred touch. the lift, the rescue, the victory. Recently, Rabbi Moshe Sherer commented: Those who make the mistake of substituting the study of Jewish suffering for the celebration of Jewish life are seriously mistaken. Our primary task is to remember who we are and how we are supposed to live; only secondarily are we to remember our victimization.
So, turn back the clock, “Remember who you are.” Recount your stored-up moments of sacred touch, your collected wisdom, your fingerprints of God lived in the events of your past.
Sometimes unexpected wisdom is even found in the scenes from animated films. Look again at The Lion King. Skip through the initial scenes to the section after King Mufasa has been murdered by Scar, and Simba, heir to the throne of his father, leaves the Pridelands. Deep in the safety of the jungle, Simba joins up with two characters, Timon and Pumba, whose philosophy of life is “Hakuna Matata,” a term which means “no worries.” It is a laid back, have-a-good-time, play-it-safe attitude. Simba buys into this for many years, enjoying a life with no worries and no responsibilities. Meanwhile, under the dictatorship of Simba’s wicked uncle, the
Pridelands falls into ruin, famine, and despair. Then one day the baboon, Rafiki, the ‘holy man,’ tracks Simba down and offers to lead him to a place where he will meet his dead father. Intrigued, the young lion follows Rafiki through the twisted roots of ancient trees until they reach a clearing.
Rafiki: [after guiding Simba to a spot where he says [it] will show him Mufasa] Look down there.
Adult Simba: [looks into a pool of water] That’s not my father. That’s just my reflection.
Rafiki: No, look harder. [touches the water, as it ripples Simba's reflection changes to that of his father]
Rafiki: You see? He lives in you.
Mufasa’s image: [from above] Simba.
Adult Simba: Father?
Mufasa’s image: [appears among the stars] Simba, you have forgotten me.
Adult Simba: No. How could I?
Mufasa’s image: You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life. Tell someone: don’t forget!
Adult Simba: How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be.
Mufasa’s ghost: Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one true king. Remember…
There, in the clear night sky, Simba remembers his roots. He has a moving vision of his father who laments, “You have forgotten who you are, and therefore, you have forgotten me.” The memories have been unlocked. Life is restored. Simba, son of the king, returns.
Too many of us remember our failures and struggles and weaknesses, while forgetting what God has done with us and for us. We need a reminder. Who are you? Are you a collection of mess-ups or party times or a total victim of being at the wrong place at the wrong time? Have you forgotten what God has done with the events of your life? Are you stuck on being a victim, or released to testify to God’s sacred touch? <(((><
You may be taking a forced march through The Valley right now.
But, don’t panic,
He never takes his children to greatness without this detour.
It’s when we resurface from that valley that we are better equipped to shake a world He loves.
image credit: fanart.lionking.org