Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Things That Last and Things That Don’t

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.”

There are things that last and things that don’t.

Truth and Retention

Information doesn’t last, even when it’s true and useful. Not in this world anyway.

You discover some important fact as you are reading the word of God, you mull it over and enjoy it for a little while, and then you never think about it again. Or maybe it’s so important that you write it down and then forget about it. Years later, you are cleaning out a drawer and find what you wrote. You realize it was you who wrote it, but it doesn’t seem familiar at all. You have to relearn the truth you once learned all over again.

Now of course if a scriptural truth has a practical aspect that can be lived out, and I make a habit of actually doing what I have learned, that’s another story. All kinds of good stuff can happen from that. But it still doesn’t help me remember things like the meaning of “grace” or the theme of 1 John.

Airing and Sharing

I find when I share the things I have learned, I have a better chance of remembering them. It’s one of the reasons I post every day. Even if nobody else reads it, putting a thought in writing helps reinforce it in my memory. Even so, I still read posts I wrote only a year or two ago that I don’t remember writing. All the same, airing and sharing a thought means I may end up discussing it with someone else, and there’s a chance I will retain it for longer.

And maybe occasionally something I write is helpful to someone else; you never know. I certainly find other people’s thoughts provoke me in good ways. Even when they are not quite correct, finding the error in someone else’s thinking or phrasing is helpful in getting at the truth of the matter. And sometimes just hearing something you already know stated in someone else’s words brings fresh understanding of the writer’s intended meaning.

Technology and Attrition

But information doesn’t last in this world. You might think technology has changed all that, but you would be dead wrong. The internet is as subject to the Second Law of Thermodynamics as everything else. I was cleaning up the HTML on some older posts the other day, and noticing how many dead links there are in posts that are only four or five years old. Many of the blogs and websites I linked to no longer exist. When you Google phrases from those posts and articles, not even the Wayback Machine can find them for you. They are vapor.

Partly this is just attrition. Writers lose interest and stop posting, take down their websites for one reason or another, or stop paying their service provider. Or they die, and their relatives have no reason to maintain what they were doing online, and it drifts off into internet limbo.

Censorship has also begun to factor into the erosion of our world’s technological information base. We can have no confidence that anything we read today will actually be there tomorrow.

Dead Trees and Lost Truth

I suppose if you want the important things you learn to last, you could print them. But my guess is that 99.9% of everything that is printed and distributed eventually meets the same fate, or simply never gets read in the first place. Very few books are important enough to preserve for more than a generation or reprint in multiple editions, and even the very important ones are often not sufficiently well read to survive more than a few years.

The first century biographer Plutarch was a researcher par excellence. Few historians have ever dug through every available account of past lives and events with his diligence and attention to detail. And what did he find? Contradictory accounts, over and over again. Even where information about somebody’s life had been carefully preserved by one historian, some other expert invariably told a different story about the same events. The truth of the matter had been lost forever.

A Book of Remembrance

In Christ, nothing good is ever lost. What a wonderful thought. No important truth, no kind act, no generous gesture, no hospitable moment is ever forgotten. Paul tells Timothy that riches are uncertain but heavenly reward is not. When rich people share with others instead of hoarding their goodies, they are “storing up treasure for themselves” in a place where goods never spoil, never get depleted by taxation, never get overlooked and thrown out by well-intentioned heirs poring through the rubble of your life.

The same is true of the things we learn and share with one another about the Lord. In Christ, nothing good is ever lost. Nothing good is ever overlooked. Nothing good is ever forgotten. No databank or technological breakthrough can make that claim.

In Christ, no precious thought will ever go unappreciated. God is keeping a record. There is a book of remembrance being written before him whenever those who fear the Lord speak with one another with his interests in mind. We may go away and forget what we said, but he never does.

That’s a legacy worth leaving and a treasure worth storing up.

No comments :

Post a Comment