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Sermon Illustrations on Memory

Background

And So Life Is

The Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler was famous for beginning counseling sessions with new clients by asking, “What is your earliest memory?” No matter how his patient replied, Adler responded, “And so life is.” Adler believed that our earliest memories leave a profound imprint on our souls. For better or for worse, it can be very difficult to escape their gravitational pull. Our earliest memories have unusual staying power.

Taken from Mark Batterson, Double Blessing: Don’t Settle for Less Than You’re Called to Bless, Multnomah, 2019.

The Problem of Forgetfulness

One of humanity’s problems is forgetfulness. Forgetfulness can happen at multiple levels, from a simple problem of recall to a posture of hard-heartedness and disobedience toward the command-giver. When God deals with the people of Israel throughout the Old Testament, God does not merely say, “This is God.” Rather, we often read, “This is the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt.” It is a reminder, to a forgetful people (which we all are), what it is that God has done for us.

C.S. Lewis reiterates this problem in the Narnian book The Silver Chair, when Aslan teaches Jill to repeat His instructions in order that should would not forget them. “‘Child’ Aslan says… ‘perhaps you do not see quite as well as you think. But the first step is to remember. Repeat to me, in order, the four signs.’” Like most of us, Jill soon forgets, and her and her companions’ journey is forever altered.

God gives us a variety of practices to remember. Sabbath, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Each exists to remind us of some significant aspect of our faith and the God who created, redeemed, and sustains us each day. So the question for us to answer is, will we remember?

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Stories

And So Life Is

The Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler was famous for beginning counseling sessions with new clients by asking, “What is your earliest memory?” No matter how his patient replied, Adler responded, “And so life is.” Adler believed that our earliest memories leave a profound imprint on our souls. For better or for worse, it can be very difficult to escape their gravitational pull. Our earliest memories have unusual staying power.

Taken from Mark Batterson, Double Blessing: Don’t Settle for Less Than You’re Called to Bless, Multnomah, 2019.

The Cursed Lawnmower

One day a pastor went to a yard sale and found a lawnmower. It seemed in decent-enough shape and the owner said it worked, so the pastor ultimately decided to buy it, and not for very much either. 

After a quick review of the machine, the pastor filled it with gas and was ready to take it on its maiden voyage. Unfortunately, after a few pumps on the fuel line and a pull of the cord, nothing happened. The pastor pulled a few more times and finally gave up. 

Thankfully, the yard sale was still happening and the pastor, now quite exasperated, asked for his money back. “This machine doesn’t work!”

“Well,” the man said, “I did forget to tell you one thing about this lawnmower—it only works if you curse at it.”

“Curse at it,” the pastor said, “I can’t do that!” I’m a man of the cloth. I don’t even know if I can curse anymore. It’s been so long.”

The man smiled and said, “Just keep pulling that rope, Pastor. It’ll come back to you.”

Original Source Unknown, Stuart Strachan Jr.

Where Ought I Be?

The great writer G.K. Chesterton’s mind was so preoccupied that he frequently forgot to keep appointments. He relied on his wife in all practical matters. Once on a lecture tour he sent her the following telegram: “Am in Birmingham. Where ought I to be?” She wired back: “Home.”

Analogies

A Redemptive Memory

In her excellent little book (Mythical Me), Richella Parham describes the importance of looking on the past with grace:

Developing a redemptive memory requires recalling not only the pain of the past but also the joy, seeing both the problems and the solutions, seeking to spot the ways that God has provided even in the midst of difficult situations.

A redemptive memory enables me to face the facts of the past as well as my own feelings. I work at comprehending the truth that God always has loved me and always will love me. A friend of mine says that we should always look for “evidences of grace,” and I’ve found it enormously helpful to remember my past with a specific goal of recognizing God’s help. Now that I’ve had some practice in looking back in this way. I’ve gotten better and better at spotting patterns of provision.

Taken from Mythical Me by Richella J. Parham Copyright (c) 2019, p.86 by Richella J. Parham. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Humor

The Cursed Lawnmower

One day a pastor went to a yard sale and found a lawnmower. It seemed in decent-enough shape and the owner said it worked, so the pastor ultimately decided to buy it, and not for very much either. 

After a quick review of the machine, the pastor filled it with gas and was ready to take it on its maiden voyage. Unfortunately, after a few pumps on the fuel line and a pull of the cord, nothing happened. The pastor pulled a few more times and finally gave up. 

Thankfully, the yard sale was still happening and the pastor, now quite exasperated, asked for his money back. “This machine doesn’t work!”

“Well,” the man said, “I did forget to tell you one thing about this lawnmower—it only works if you curse at it.”

“Curse at it,” the pastor said, “I can’t do that!” I’m a man of the cloth. I don’t even know if I can curse anymore. It’s been so long.”

The man smiled and said, “Just keep pulling that rope, Pastor. It’ll come back to you.”

Original Source Unknown, Stuart Strachan Jr.

Where Ought I Be?

The great writer G.K. Chesterton’s mind was so preoccupied that he frequently forgot to keep appointments. He relied on his wife in all practical matters. Once on a lecture tour he sent her the following telegram: “Am in Birmingham. Where ought I to be?” She wired back: “Home.”

More Resources

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Related Themes

Click a topic below to explore more sermon illustrations! 

Aging

The Brain

Ceremonies

Experience

Forgetfulness

The Mind

Thought/s

Tradition

& Many More