I love talking with people with whom I have a common history. Every time a family member or a friend asks, “Remember when?” or “Remember [the person] who [did or said]?,” that question provides an opportunity for me to recall the past and to give thanks for the people and places and events that helped shape me into who I am today.
How different, I wonder, would my life be today had not those persons done and said the things that I remember? What if they had not spoken that word of encouragement at the time I desperately needed it? What if they had refused to help me out? Where would I be if I had not had people who believed in me, people who pointed out the opportunities that lay before me, people who reminded me that I could better myself? What if persons had not lovingly spoken the truth to me? How could I–in fact, how would I–have gotten back on the right track?
And, what about all those who taught me many of the skills I have today? Shouldn’t I remember with gratitude the ones who taught me to read, as well as all those who’ve helped me avoid being completely lost in today’s technical world?
Yes, I should thank God upon every remembrance of them (Philippians 1:3) because each one contributed unique and beautiful strands to the weaving of the rich tapestry of my life. I am indebted to all who immeasurably enriched my life, including those who provided the dark strands in the tapestry, for I grew stronger as I struggled to cope with the effects of their words and actions.
As I give thanks for people from the past, I also include those whom I may have never met face to face but whose words or actions have impacted the direction and the depth of my life?writers, speakers, musicians, defenders, leaders, scientists, and such.
I give special thanks for those whom God used to pen the words in the Bible, as well as for those who have helped me to better understand God�s Word, for it serves as �a lamp for my feet and a light for my path� (Psalm 119:105, New Living Translation).
As I�ve studied the Bible, I�ve come across many passages that exhort people to remember the past�its pleasures, its pain, its lessons, and the presence of God in the midst of it all.
One such passage is Deuteronomy 32. In that account, the people are preparing to enter the land God has promised to them. Moses recites for them a song that summarizes the history of their relationship with God. He urges them to remember not only how God chose, loved, guided, and nourished them and their ancestors but also how He judged them and then punished them for their sins. He exhorts the people to keep those memories fresh in their minds so as to avoid repeating the mistakes made in the past.
In that clarion call, Moses exhorts the people to remember all that has gone on before, to remember God�s good and gracious hand upon them, and to remember as well the people, places, and events that shaped them and brought them to the place where they were that day?ready (at last!) to receive what God had planned for them.
�November 15, 2000, by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill
Johnnie Ann Gaskill writes a weekly newspaper column for three Georgia newspapers. She is the author of Reflections, and a contributing author for three anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Volunteer’s Soul. She may be contacted via or

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