That night, he gave me something to live up to. I was on my way to becoming a cheater, but Grandpa gave me a vision for a better future. I had to decide. What kind of boy would I be? What kind of man would I become? Would I be a person of integrity, or would I drift, along with much of humanity, into a swamp of dishonesty, shading the truth, cutting corners, and trimming the facts to suit the needs of the moment?
  
On that unforgettable night in my childhood, that kitchen nook became something of a temple, a holy place. And the old Formica table became an altar. At the time, I certainly didn’t understand all its momentous ramifications—mostly I just felt bad—but that evening became for me a life-governing memory. Twenty years later, when a superior officer in the Army directed me to falsify a report, I refused to lie. That night at the Formica table flashed through my mind, and I remembered my grandpa’s words: “Weber boys don’t lie, cheat, or steal.”
  
Later, quite apart from any initiative on my part, the inevitable investigation (which deception always breeds) was launched. Not only was my own name clean, but the senior commander actually commended me.
  
Thanks, Grandpa. You gave me a vision for what I could be and a memory that shaped my future. Nurtured memories serve as the baseline of our destinies.
  
When my grandparents passed away, I was fortunate enough to come into possession of their yellow Formica table. That table is much more than something to hold food off the floor. It is a symbol of something much larger. Around that table, in our own little kitchen, Linda and I raised our three boys. Today, our youngest son and his wife have it in their possession. Together they’re raising three more little Weber boys (as of this writing).
  
That humble little table, not much to look at in itself, has become something of a monument in our family. Think of it. Five generations have eaten at that table. Five generations have forged their characters and enjoyed each other’s company around that simple piece of furniture. It has marked the timeline of everyone in the family.

The Stuff of Life

Memories are the stuff of which life is made. That’s true personally, in a family, and in a nation. Elie Wiesel said it well: “Memory feeds a culture, nourishes hope, and makes a human, human.”
  
Much like Simba, you and I have some pain to discard and some memories to nourish. For that to happen, we all need what Simba so desperately needed: reminders.
  
That’s what this book is about. It’s an opportunity to seek from the Lord of the timeline the invaluable gift he gives better than anyone else: perspective on our lives. As we walk through these pages together, I think you’ll be encouraged to blow away like chaff those memories that would hold you back. I also believe you’ll grab hold of the good seed, the healthy, life-bearing seed that is able to produce a family tree that will flourish for generations to come.
  
What we need are reminders that speak to us of who we really are, of what God has done for us, and of what our ultimate destinies will be. God in his grace, has, still does, and will continue to provide us with reminders—if only we will open our eyes, our ears, and most importantly, our hearts.
  
This we must do . . . for our own timelines and for the greater timeline that envelops us all.

* * *
  
Your Journey on the Timeline

Impact Statement: Purpose and power flow from uncovering positive memories.

Summary

  • The young lion overcame his disorientation at the pool of remembrance.
  • Memory is the lifeblood of character. Nurtured memories serve as the baseline of our destinies.
  • The pool of reflection is a place for the healthy sorting of memories. It is learning from, culling, and then discarding the negative elements of our past. It is rediscovering the positive elements of who we are. It is harnessing our character for maximum impact.
  • Life-shaping memories are made to be told and retold for our own good and for the benefit of others.
  • Simple things, like Formica tables, can become monuments in our souls.
  • Without a clear remembrance of the past, there is not a proper context for the present or the future.
  • Memory loss destroys people, families, and nations.

Key Questions

1. When was the last time you took a half day or more and sat beside your own pool of reflection? Will you resolve to do it soon?

2. Can you identify two or three negative memories you will choose to cull from your developing character?

3. Can you name, from your past, a person or two who has left a soul-shaping impact on you?

4. If you were to tell one story from your past, what would it be? Why?

Moving Forward

Pick a day in the near future. Set it aside for yourself and your reflection. Write down one or two of the key positive memories of your past that continue to mark you to this day (even if it’s just a paragraph or two).

1C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (San Francisc HarperCollins, 2001), 139.
2James 4:14, THE MESSAGE
32 Peter 3:8, NIV
4Psalm 139:5, NLT
5Colossians 2:13-14, NLT
6Isaiah 1:18, NLT
7Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 32.


From Infinite Impact:  Making the Most of Your Place on God’s Timeline.  Copyright © 2007 by Stu Weber.  Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.