Do faces and places stick in my mind like flies to a strip of flypaper hanging in an old butcher’s shop? How do I remember what I remember? How many megabytes or gigabytes of memory do I have? Why do some memories fade as I grow older? Some things I can’t remember while other things I can’t forget. Why do songs and smells sometimes trigger memories? A lost love? A lost loved one?
Our Maker created us with the ability to remember things, including Himself: ‘Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”’ Ecclesiastes 12:1. However, rather than remember, unless He converts us, we go through life trying hard to keep a lid on our knowledge of God (Romans 1:18). Yet it is hard not to remember Him, because He gives us so many reminders of Himself. Everything we smell, taste, touch, hear and see is revelation of the Creator. We exist because He exists. We remember because God remembers.
However, when it comes to God, is our flypaper too full of flies for any memory of Him to stick? Or are we not, as the Bible says, simply suppressing the knowledge of God, just as we try to do with any bad memory? He made us in His image, yet He had to send His Son into the world to remind us what He looks like! ‘The Son is … the exact representation of His being’ Hebrews 1:3. ‘Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror, and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like’ James 1:23-24. We have forgotten what God looks look like, and, we can so quickly forget what we ourselves look like. What’s wrong with us? Well, it is only when He converts us that we remember what God and we ourselves really look like.
Understanding what Christ did on the cross has been referred to derogatorily as ‘butcher shop theology’, wherein the Old Testament Temple sacrifice of every animal culminated in the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross as a substitutionary atonement. However, in Christ’s ‘butcher shop’ there hangs no flypaper clogged up with flies. For the believer, it is as when God had finished with sending His plague of flies on Pharaoh and his household: ‘Not one remained’ Exodus 8:31a. Not one fly. God is very exact!
I remember when I was converted in my early thirties being amazed that I could remember so much of what the Bible taught. I had never been that interested in God’s Word until then, but had read bits and pieces here and there and had heard stories as a child at school and in the Boys’ Brigade. Nothing had seemed to stick. But it all came flooding back to me! That putrid strip of flypaper hanging in the centre of my mind was taken down and thrown out along with my sins! I was transformed and my whole mind was renewed. No flies on me! For, ‘God made Him who had no sin to be sin [i.e., a sin-offering] for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God’ 2 Corinthians 5:21.
I remember that it is Christ that saves me and not I myself. I remember what I look like, a sinner saved by grace alone. Dear reader, ask God to remove that old flypaper strip from your mind. Remember Him.