My husband and I watch Blacklist. It’s this show about a confidential informant for the FBI. He’s complicated (of course), pompous, arrogant, and self-indulgent. Every episode he’ll be talking to an associate of his and launch into a seemingly irrelevant story set in some exotic location. He’ll lean in, narrow his eyes and say, “Remember Morocco?”
One night while we were watching, Justin paused the show, turned to me and asked, “Why don’t we do that? We’ve been to some cool places. Why don’t we ever say, ‘Remember Rome?’ Or London? And why don’t you get angry and throw a glass of water at me and say 'Oh, I remember Rome. I’ll never forget.'”
But I liked the idea. So a few days later I sent him a text:
“Remember Beijing? That time in the forbidden city when we got separated in the emperor’s quarters and, looking all over for you, I stumbled upon this exquisite, perfectly manicured garden, frosted in whiter than white snow? And there you were. A perfect thing among perfect things. Otherworldly.”
Sappy. I know.
He loved it.
I was thinking of this the other day driving home from a speaking engagement at a Christian school. I’d been talking about the war between spirit and flesh, how one day the fog would lift and we’d all see clearly and realize so much of what we thought was important wasn’t important at all and so many other things we’d put off or put aside were the things that really, really mattered. I said, "We think of being a Christian as this tame, small thing, but really it’s epic and dramatic. It’s war. It’s The Hunger Games, and Lord Of The Rings and Blacklist--good versus evil in a global, celestial showdown to the death."
I thought, why don’t we Christians begin sentences like Raymond Reddington does on Blacklist? And so I sent a different sort of text to Justin:
“Remember Wuhan?* When we stood beside a gymnasium swimming pool in full winter dress--coat, hat, scarf--steam fogging the windows, us pretending we were there to tour the facility, when really we were spies under the gaze of an oppressive government, watching our soon-to-be-brother, celebrating in packed silence the victory in the water, the whole of Heaven erupting in raucous joy.”
I delighted in the sharing of that story. Justin reveled in the remembering.
I have so many of these epic memories. Every child of God and warrior of light does. Not all of them take place in exotic locations but all them are full of drama and gravity…
I could say to Justin, “Remember Henderson? When we stood apart across the kitchen island, so angry and so ready to forgive and, by the power of God, began a practice of forgiveness giving life, enabling love and joy even now?"
To my friend Janine I could say, “Remember Chick-fil-a? When we sat in a booth while our kids played on a dirty, crowded playground, and we sorted the messiness of life and realized the power of daily bread?”
To my mother I could say, “Remember the couch? Where we sat for three hours and I listened and you did, too, and things that had seemed so hard to say suddenly weren’t and we prayed and we welcomed the Spirit of God and His good work of translation and reconciliation?”
To my church I could say, “Remember the snow? When just for a moment something impossible was possible and we remembered nothing is impossible with God?”
To my children I could say, “Remember Hurricane Ridge? When we stood on the very top tip of a mountain surrounded by mountains and praised the God who’d made it all?”
I can and MUST talk like this. Because my life in Christ is better than a movie. Words like these aren’t dramatic. They’re real life.
And what about God? What about all the remembers He and I share?
“God, remember Pinellas Park? Where I made tracts about salvation on the copy machine at seven years old? Where You found me and loved me and washed me clean and new?”
Remember Weeki Wachee? When I swam beside a manatee alone underwater, the whole world quiet, You saying “It is good” and me in full, joyful agreement?
Remember Brooklyn? Where I lost a baby and found my voice? Where you held me in bed while I cried and whispered words in my ear as I talked to friends who needed You and saw You in me?
Remember Rome? Where You and I walked the streets You’d walked with Your people for centuries and I found my place in a long tradition of faith?
Remember Split? On the Croatian coast, where You filled a tiny room with Your loud, sure, joyful voice, standing in and beside and around Your people, all of us worshipping You, all of us seeing You in one another.
The remembers go on and on…
Life with God is an adventure. It’s risky and beautiful and the sort of thing we tell stories about, the muse for songs and epic poetry. These are the stories we must tell--and tell in dramatic, powerful ways.
Join me, friends, in remembering. Not just in our heads but with our hearts and in our words. Let’s lean across the table and say with a twinkle in our eyes and treble in our tone, “Remember…”
*Wuhan is a city of millions in China where baptism is done secretly and Christianity, in any form other than the watered-down government-approved version, is forbidden.