by Greg Quinn
September 18, 2003
Every played “remember when”? My brothers and I have been doing that off and on all day today, exchanging emails about the “good ol days” when we were kids. We bounced notes back and forth about things that I sometimes forget but fondly remember. Changes occurred when we were kids that we didn’t understand or appreciate, but looking back on them, these were great memories. Some of these challenging times, we now recall, have helped shape us into the men we are today. And some of the decisions made years ago have shaped our destiny, not just while on earth, but for eternity. Remember when?
One cannot appreciate a beautiful bathroom with plenty of hot water until you’ve once had to draw water from a cistern to take a bath, heat the water on a pot bellied stove, and pour it into the community washtub for 4 boys to use to take a bath. At the time, we didn’t really recognize the discomfort (except maybe our youngest brother Anthony, who was the last to use the water and by then, it was cold and dirty). Comparing to the nice bathrooms we enjoy today, we wondered how we made it. I still remember, and smile, today.
And, speaking of bathrooms, we appreciate our indoor plumbing now because we once had an "outhouse" with 2-inch cracks in the walls and no roof. We appreciated the outhouse because prior to that, we used the “squat-in-the-yard” method. I remember once when, being the older brother, I had to escort Jeff to the yard in the middle of the night in the deep snow (deep to us kids, but probably only 6 inches or so) where he could use the bathroom. He dug his hole in the snow, pulled down his little pajamas, did his business, and right before he stood up I couldn’t resist giving his head a little nudge where he feel back into the newly utilized hole. Yes, Jeff cried, and I got a well-deserved whipping. But, things like this remain funny today, and made us appreciate the roofless toilet. I still remember today, after all these years.
I remember when we had to chip ice off the toilet seat in the winter to sit down. I remember when we could truly enjoy fall evenings on that special seat, watching the stars in the sky on a clear night. I remember when the distance from the farmhouse to the outhouse was a challenge to make after drinking too much water, or after once eating 7 oranges. I remember going to the outhouse in the rain, and enjoying it. If I did not remember these things, how could I truly appreciate the benefits of a nice indoor bathroom today? Or, how could I long for the simplicity of those days again on a cool fall evening in Tennessee? I still remember today.
I remember when our toys consisted of sticks and rocks, and we truly enjoyed them. I remember when our video games were watching the birds play in the yard, or the dogs work in the field. I remember when motion toys were real live frogs and bugs. I remember board games like racing click-bugs up a screen leaned against the house. I remember when a hot rod car was one with new paint and a big motor. I remember when it was normal for a kid to stand between his parents in the front seat of a car, and when there was no such thing as a padded dash. I remember when no one knew what seat belts were for and there was no government telling you that you must wear them. “Safe Driving” was Mom’s automatic arm extending across our chests whenever she put on the brakes. I remember when everyone’s kids rode in the back of a pickup and it was OK and even expected. I remember the big back windows being the location of choice on long rides for little kids. I still remember these things today.
I remember when I worked all summer selling American Seeds door to door to get my first gun, a Daisy western-style BB pistol. The BB was so slow coming out of this thing that it seemed you could outrun it easily. But, it was loved more than any of the 40+ guns I own today. I remember shooting my kid brother in the back with it, and it barely leaving a whelp, and I remember the belt I got in response left more marks on me than the BB did on my brother.
I remember the center of community activities was the church, and practically every weekend involved some family or church gathering. I remember not knowing poor folks, because the neighborhood and the church insured everyone had plenty to eat. I remember less waste and less want, because people didn’t seem to have as much but appreciated and shared what they had.
I remember long rides to church on Sundays, with 7 of us crowded in a car with no air conditioning, and Boge almost always getting car-sick. I remember growing up hearing the gospel of Jesus first from the lips of my earthly father, a pastor. I remember hearing about Jesus before I heard about Santa Claus.
I remember church socials and much food and plenty of kids to play with. I remember letting frogs loose in church, and having birds share the service with us. I remember baptisms in the lake and creek instead of pools inside churches.
I remember singing with no piano, and then I remember my uncle playing guitar to the old hymns. I remember aunts that couldn’t sing, but whose life sung more brilliantly and sweetly than any song that could be played.
I remember whippings I got and deserved, and the mercy felt when I didn’t get one that I should have gotten.
I remember fights with brothers were a daily activity, but if anyone else tried to fight one of us, they’d fight us all. I remember the bonds of family that couldn’t be broken, the accomplishments that were shared together, the pains and joys and troubles that were less sharp because of the comforting arm of family around you. I still remember today.
I remember a point in time when I realized I was lost without God and going to Hell. I had heard about Jesus and God and the Bible all my life, but now God the Holy Spirit was sharing with me inside, through that “still, small voice” what I had heard for years, and was just understanding. I remembered how I realized that, while I wasn’t the meanest kid around, I was still lost without God and was unrighteous in God’s eyes. I heard what seemed like the first time about how much Jesus loved me that, even though He had done no wrong, He died a cruel death on the cross to pay for my sins. I remember how alone I felt when I realized how I had been bad, and nothing I could do on my own would make up for my sins. I also remember how glad I felt when I recognized the truth of the gospel, that it really didn’t matter what I did for my redemption, because Jesus had done it all for me already. I couldn’t save myself, but Jesus had already prepared salvation for me, and all I had to do was to say “yes”. Receive the free gift. I remember, although but 13 years of age, how the weight of the world had been lifted and I knew, no matter what I had done to that point, or what I would do from that point on, that God had saved me from my sins and one day, I’d be with God in Heaven. I still remember today. And, I can rest assured each day of my life that, if it is the last here on earth, that tomorrow will be the first with God in Heaven for eternity.
What does “remember-when-ing” do for us? I tell you what it does for me. When I reflect back on things that one might think were challenging, time and memories and comparisons make them seem very small. If I remember a time when we didn’t have much, I can always remember those who had less than we did. If I remember a time of sorrow, I can always remember a time of joy. If I remember a time when I was bad, I can remember a God who loved me even when I was bad. If I once thought or think that I am of little use or value, then I can also remember scripture that reminds me that I am of such value that the Son of God himself died for my sins.
Fall is in the air. Things are changing. Life changes. But, some things never change. God will always love me; that never changes. And, God will always love you. Night will come, followed by daylight. Storms will come, followed by peace. Troubles will come, followed by gladness. Life will continue to happen until, one day, your and my life will be over. All that will matter at that point is one simple remembrance…..did you remember to accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior?
If you live another day, enjoy the day, and reflect upon the days before with remembrance. Remember when. If you are living this day, and have never accepted the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, then establish right now the most important memory you will ever make…the memory of this day when you accepted the Lord and were saved.
If you’ve never done this, just say a simple prayer like this one. “Dear God, I know I am a sinner. I know that your son Jesus died for my sins. I believe that he lived a perfect life and died for me, and rose again to save me. I accept Jesus as my personal savior this day, and know that from now on, I’ll enjoy the knowledge of one day being with you in Heaven. Thank you, Lord, for saving me.”
If you’ve prayed this before, you are saved and you can remember when. If you are just now praying this prayer, you are saved, and will remember this day. Of all the remembrances we enjoy, the day we escaped death for eternal life through Jesus is the sweetest memory of all.
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