Today I spoke in church about the time I spent in Haiti in 2011.
I brought along a picture of a child I had met that changed my life.
Before service began I was rushing around (as usual). On my way out of the door I remembered that I wanted to show some pictures from my trip to Haiti. I dashed up to my office and grabbed a few pictures I thought would suffice without putting much thought into them at all.
Our time of worship began and ended and it was time for me to tell my story.
I began like always. Calm. Excited. Happy to be with my church family.
I continued talking and picked up my pictures.
Paper memories that I hadn’t indulged in at least a year.
My eyes met the picture of the boy that changed my life.
I choked up. My face grew hot. My knees felt weak. My spirit became downcast.
In an instant every memory flooded my heart.
Every sight, sound, and smell.
Every hand I held and hug I exchanged.
Every word out of that dusty little boy’s mouth rang clear.
In his language, “Mwen Vin Chonje.”
I remembered. And it hurt.
I remembered. And I cried.
I remembered. And God reminded me of something.
Memory is a powerful thing.
When I was in Haiti, I made memories I hope to take with me straight to Heaven.
I saw my friends step out in faith and love like Jesus.
I saw strong, selfless people rising above hardship.
I saw pure joy in the eyes of the little boy who changed my life.
His eyelashes were the longest I’ve ever seen.
I saw beauty. Compassion. Mountains.
When I was in Haiti I saw death.
I saw suffering. I heard wailing through the night.
I saw corruption. Selfishness. Desperation. Brokenness.
I saw and experienced things that I wish I could forget.
As if forgetting would make what I saw just a bad dream.
But today I learned something: We aren’t supposed to forget.
I don’t think God wants us to forget everything.
To forget the bad means to forget to pray for the good.
To forget the hard means to forget what it’s like to rise from the ashes.
To forget the suffering means to forget to act on someone else’s behalf.
That’s why I remember Haiti.
And the crumbled buildings.
And the dirty rivers.
Not because I want to cry or see suffering, but because remembering moves me into action. It moves me out of my mundane world and into God’s mission. It moves me out of my comfort zone, onto my knees, and into His will.
Remembering, no matter how difficult, moves us into action.
Our walk with Christ is the same.
There are things that were a part of my old life before Christ.
Things I did that hurt myself and hurt others.
Sins I took part in that hurt my King.
Overtime, the Holy Spirit has healed those wounds, erased the physical memories, and mended the emotional scars, but that doesn’t mean I stop remembering.
I remember what I did. But it doesn’t define me.
I remember how I strayed from his fold. But I know it won’t happen again.
I remembered the struggles I faced and the sin that entangled me. But I don’t fight my battles alone anymore.
There is power in remembering.
When we choose to remember something difficult or painful and consecrate that memory to the Lord, we take power over the enemy.
When we choose to remember something beautiful or joyful and we give praise to the Lord, we bring glory to His name.
Today, remember something.
Remember a sickness, a sin, a trap, a loss, a hurt.
And then remember a healing, a blessing, a freedom, a gift, a joy!
Let every memory,
small or big,
painful or beautiful
move you into action.