"Remember that the Lord rescued you from the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt in order to make you his very own people and his special possession." Deuteronomy 4:20 NLT

Smell may do the best job at triggering my memory, but sight functions well, too.

While walking, I saw an unusual sight that activated a flood of memories: a lone Chinaberry tree. My grandfather, who lived in Vance, was a hog farmer— at least as long as I knew him. And next to the fences surrounding the old farm house — the fences that corralled his hogs — stood numerous Chinaberry trees. What led them to grow there, I’m not sure. He surely didn’t plant them. Perhaps birds deposited the remainder of the seeds after eating the berries.

Chinaberry trees are uncommon where I presently live, so seeing one surprised me. The gentle leaves and placid bark brought back memories of lazy summer pre-teen days spent with my cousin, who lived next door to my grandparents. A cousin who was an expert on Chinaberry trees and all we could do with them.

We wiled away the long summer days hanging from their branches, watching the hogs mull around beneath us. They loved the Chinaberry trees, too, for the berries they dropped. And in our devilmented moments, we removed limbs from the trees, shaved the bark with our large hunting knives, pointed the ends and threw our homemade spears at the unsuspecting hogs. Their ensuing squeals brought our grandmother out of the house with a sharp rebuke: “Alright, Pappy’s gonna cut your behind.”

Memory is a powerful tool sadly taken from those who have endured accidents, incurred illnesses, or been unfortunate enough to be born with mental limitations. But in its healthy form, memory serves the human body in many facets.

God often called upon his people to remember. One of the focal points in Israel’s history God wanted them to remember was the 400 years they spent in Egyptian slavery and how he delivered them. Remembering that episode would keep him endeared to them.

I never want to forget how a Chinaberry tree looks. Each time I see one, I remember some enjoyable times of my boyhood days. But more important things than a Chinaberry tree exist, which I want to remember.

I always want to remember I was lost, yet now am found. Not geographically. I once groveled in sin’s slavery, but my belief in the efficacy of Jesus’ shed blood on Calvary’s cross freed me.

I relish the memory that God continually resides with me in the person of his Spirit. Regardless of what I’m facing, he lingers nearby to give hope, courage, faith, wisdom and trust.

I also cherish remembering what Jesus said: he was leaving to prepare a place for his children but he would return to take them home. The troubles of this world won’t always be my daily lot. I’ll be free at last from pain, suffering, evil and all forms of sadness.

When life gets you down — or when you just need a daily boost — remember God’s promises.

Martin Wiles is managing editor of Christian Devotions, assistant editor of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and author of "Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church" and "Grits & Grace & God." His work is featured at thttp://lovelinesfromgod.blogspot.com/.

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