Eileen. She was a member of the New Jersey church we planted in 1973. She served as director of our weekday nursery and child care program. She babysat our three young children. For a while, she even lived with us. She wasn’t only Lois’ and my friend, she was our family friend. Lois phoned her a few nights ago. They talked and talked—many calendars of years to catch up on! They plan to do it monthly. The other night I mentioned to Lois: “I feel like we’ve found a long-lost daughter!” She agreed. Eileen was a very special young lady to all us Babcocks.
Memories. With Eileen’s face and catch-up news came reams of memories. Getting on in years as they say, I can’t recount all the memories or even recall specifically which ones she was part of and which she wasn’t. Here are a few I remember from that time in our lives . . .
If I really worked at it, I could get this rusty old mind to recall more memories. But they’re like baby pictures to you, aren’t they. You’re probably remembering you have to schedule your root canal—and you certainly wouldn’t want to miss that! Wait! Don’t go. I’ll turn off the good old days—and briefly turn on why I’m writing about this.
God is big on memories. He commanded the Israelites to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy . . . For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (Exodus 20:8-11). The Sabbath was to be set apart, not only so the people could rest, but so they would regularly remember that the LORD had created everything they saw and enjoyed.
God commanded the Israeltes to “Take twelve men . . . [one] from each tribe a man . . . saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the places where you lodge tonight'” (Joshua 4:3). “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan (into the Promised Land) on dry ground'” (Joshua 4:21,22). The Lord wanted generations to hold memories of what the Lord had done in that place.
The apostle Paul recalled Jesus’ command: “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me” . . . “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24,25). Above all, Jesus wanted his followers to remember his death by which he established the new covenant between the Father and us who believe.
God is big on memories, because they are opportunities to recall his acts of grace and power. So as I remember those days with Eileen and our family decades ago, I recall God’s gifts of grace. How he gave us a beautiful home in which to live. An exciting, challenging church to pastor. The beauty and fun of snow and a swimming pool. The adventure of hiking and catching a bird’s eye view of New York City. Ice skating with frosty noses and fingers. And a young lady who showed our whole family Jesus’ servant love in everything she did.