It’s a Poor Sort of Memory That Only Works Backwards


I am on a spiritual/work retreat, mixing prayer with planning.  After spending several hours on planning, we went away by ourselves for some alone time with God.  And I found God in an interesting place: Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.  Listen in on this conversation between Alice and the white queen:

‘The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.’
‘It MUST come sometimes to “jam to-day,”‘ Alice objected.
‘No, it can’t,’ said the Queen. ‘It’s jam every other day: to-day isn’t any other day, you know.’
‘I don’t understand you,’ said Alice. ‘It’s dreadfully confusing!’
‘That’s the effect of living backwards,’ the Queen said kindly: ‘it always makes one a little giddy at first–‘
‘Living backwards!’ Alice repeated in great astonishment. ‘I never heard of such a thing!’
‘–but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.’
‘I’m sure MINE only works one way,’ Alice remarked. ‘I can’t remember things before they happen.’
‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked.

It is a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.

Remembering only where we’ve been, what obstacles we have faced, who has wronged us, and what pain we have felt is backwards memory.  This is the past that many ‘Alices’ of this world remember.

Many people can only remember backwards, because they haven’t discovered the grace of God which gives insight into their immediate and eternal futures–memories filled with promise and hope.  God’s promises are our forward memory.

In an attempt to have Alice serve her, the white queen promised her something in the past (jam yesterday) that was unattainable and something in the future (jam tomorrow) that she had no intention of actually giving Alice.  Each Alice who enters our church is skeptical, because they live in a world full of misplaced trust and doubtful futures.

As church communicators, this is our goal: to introduce people to the grace, hope, and promises of God so that their memory can work both ways.

After leaving my quiet time, I bumped into Shannon Schaupp, our gracious host at The Potter’s Place.  I shared my thoughts, to which she replied, “We can have a memory that works both ways, because we have in us the Alpha and Omega–the beginning and the end.”

How can you communicate in a way that introduces people to the Alpha and Omega–their hope for a future?  Can you help them to use their memories both ways, to remember things that haven’t yet happened?