Define It | Devotion #4: Long-Term Memory
Richie Henson | Production Director
Each day, our brains are flooded with mounds of new and differing information. Some of it is sensory, like all the cars, trees, and the buildings we see while driving. Others are more intellectual in nature, new ideas we come across while reading or skills we develop through training or conversation. No matter how “busy” you feel on a given day, there is no doubt that your brain is under constant bombardment. I think that is why God designed long-term memory the way He did. As part of God’s great design, our brains consolidate information we receive during the day and items that are repeated multiple times make their way into our long-term memory. Our brains preserve these memories and store them throughout our brain ready to be recalled when the time comes. This is an amazing function that God has placed in us, but like most things in this fallen world, it can be a stumbling block in our walk with God.
I grew up in the church, but my relationship with Jesus did not become my own until I was 17. Since that time, I have been trying my best to lay down my life and pursue the purpose God has for me. However, there are days when all I can think about are memories of my past life that plague me. There was a time in my life when I was full of hatred, and I took it out on everyone around me. I remember fights at school or with my parents that got out of hand. It makes me wonder if I can ever be the person God wants me to be. It makes it hard to feel that I could ever change.
I think the woman at the well probably lived this experience. Jesus called out the sin she was living in so that she could understand her need for Jesus to save her. I believe the woman at the well got saved, but I also know that her long-term memory was filled with actions she could never take back. It can be a struggle to live in the present when your memory banks are filled with the regrets of your past.
I believe Paul is a prime example of someone who worked to combat this. He was haunted by a recent past full of hatred towards Christians, but he was able to overcome his past by the power of God to be the greatest leader of the early church. Paul gives us a glimpse into how he did this in Philippians 3:13, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Our brains are designed to remember the big events from our lives. There are times where this can be painful as we consider our poor choices and actions. However, Jesus did not save us to live in our past, and He saved us to strain forward to what lies ahead. Your past is exactly that, past. I pray we all would work to leave it there.