February 2, 2011
The Book of Days
Ariel Allison Lawhon, She Reads Co-Director
"All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16b (NIV)
They say that smell is the sense most linked to memory. And I know this to be true. The earthy aroma of geraniums transports me to a porch in west Texas where my grandmother tended flowers with the hands that had worked the land her entire life. I see her, water hose dangling from her fingers, spraying the heat and dust from the cobblestone patio. Washing away the residue of a hot afternoon.
The memories of my childhood are bound up in a woman whose name, Ellen, means "shining light." Yet most of those memories are now forgotten to her. Stolen by an illness that I once called "Old Timers Disease." And she laughed at that, back then, when I was all elbows and knees and teeth. Back when she told me that her father suffered from Alzheimer's. The thief of memory.
The diagnosis came early last fall, just as her flower garden began to die, the red petals of her geraniums crisping around the edges, falling away. I now live the great sadness of seeing her slip into the haze of Alzheimer's, that shining light in her eyes replaced by confusion. And I wonder where her memories go.
Shelling peas with her grandchildren on the back porch.
Cracking open a watermelon and teaching me to spit the seeds across the yard.
Burying her second child, a little girl named Kathy, at the age of three.
Her wrinkled hand tracing the lines of Amazing Grace as we stand and sing the benediction.
Weddings and funerals and the births of grandchildren.
Her own husband of forty-plus years, gone on before her.
All these precious moments of a life falling away, like petals in an autumn frost. Is God catching them as they escape her mind? Holding them in His palm? Does He record them with a tender hand, each memory pressed between the pages of time? Will they one day be restored to her? Do our memories belong to us alone, or are they so special to God that He takes pains to keep track of each and every one?
In Psalm 139:16 we read the startling truth that every moment of our lives has been recorded by a knowing God. "Your eyes saw my unformed body; in Your book all my days were recorded, even those which were purposed before they had come into being."
God has already written down every moment of my grandmother's life in His book. He's done the same for me and for you as well. Our moments are precious to Him. The times we've knelt in prayer and shouted in praise. Tears and laughter. Celebration and sorrow. None will be lost forever. Not by us and certainly not by the God who ordered each moment before we were even born.
This spring I will fill my back patio with geraniums and I will inhale the scent of my grandmother. I will remember for her, until the day she sits beside her Lord and He opens His book to read the story of Ellen, a woman whose light shines brightly.
Dear Lord, thank You that my days are not forgotten to You. Each one is so important that You wrote it down, with Your own hand. My name is in Your book and Your love is written across every page of my life. For all the days that I have left, may I remember Your with the same passion that You remember me.
She Reads: Discovering Great Fiction Together A division of Proverbs 31 Ministries
James Rubart's latest novel, Book of Days, is the story of a man who goes searching for God's book written about in Psalm 139 in effort to regain his lost memories. Book of Days is also our She Reads featured book. Be sure to visit the She Reads blog and enter to win a Kindle preloaded with this novel.
Make a list of your sweetest memories and share them with someone you care about.
Pray for a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer's and thank God that no memory of theirs is lost.
Have you ever considered that your memories are precious to God?
How do you feel knowing that God recorded every day of your life before you were born?
How can you praise God today for this kindness?
1Chronicles 16:15, "He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations." (NIV)
Psalm 25:6, "Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old." (NIV)
Psalm 42:4, "These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng." (NIV)
© 2011 by Ariel Allison Lawhon. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105