We were six feet apart and wearing face coverings – some fittingly styled from rags and others adorned in sterile moldy-blue.  A feeling of deja-vu dragged this old memory out of the hidden cervices of the attic of my mind.  All queued up in a line, I was reminded of another day and another line.  It was as if I could sense the odors of the old high school building halls I wondered as a youngster.  The odd mixture of bleach, sweat, and dust that would sweep over the olfactory sensors when you entered the southern doors.  As children, we had lined up at ole Haywood High – now a museum – to receive the inoculation that eventually would all but eradicate the dreaded and fearful polio disease and dismiss it as a subject for history books and memoirs.  Dad told me one time that the most difficult experience of his life was not being able to do anything about my sister’s crying while isolated on the other side of a window in a hospital.   All this forgotten imagery brought up in living color just as I was waiting my turn for the Covid-19 vaccine.  

God uses our capacity to remember things that happened decades ago.  The memories can be stirred by something as simple as a smell, a word spoken at just the right time, or similarities in experience like standing in line to receive a shot in the arm.  Whatever the trigger, the Bible tells stories about God using memories to speak to us.  Often these memories are of special times when we gathered with other believers or times when God opened up the sky in our soul and showed himself to us in striking scenes of heavenly glory – memories powerful enough to bring you to your knees and blanket you with joy just like the experience itself did a year or years before.  

In Psalm 42, the Psalmist says, “I remember going to the house of the Lord with a crowd.” This psalmist wants to be in that line of pilgrims worshiping in close fellowship with each other and God.  He is longing for it like a deer longs for the life-giving refreshment from a stream of water.  We do not know what caused this memory to swell up in the tear ducks of this lonely man confined in some way from making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  Perhaps it was as simple as coming upon a stream of water.  But over the years of meditating on these ancient words, times when my desire for the Lord drew on the well where my own salty tears originated, I have identified with the hollow emptiness that this man felt inside his gut.  Following these pensive moments, I would cast off the restraints that were holding me back and would go to where I could be with other Christians.  My emptiness would disintegrat in the sweet and pleasant overflow of close fellowship like a flood from a cool mountain spring pouring over my soul.  

Stephen Williams