A call to the ancient roads

Photo illustration by Edmon de Haro

My daughter recently asked me about the day her mother and I were married, and while there are many clear memories – the church, the bride, the commitment – my memory may be for worse not for better.

For example, I have to think hard to remember all the groomsmen who stood by me, and I can’t recall exactly what the caterer served. More embarrassingly, a bride recently wore my wife’s dress at a wedding I officiated – and I didn’t recognize it.

My daughter was not impressed.

In my defense, a considerable amount of life has happened since then, and it has played out over three states and six addresses; there have been two sons and a daughter born into the family, a few bonus additions, and roughly 40 foster children; and there was several jobs, an intense time in seminary, and a few churches pastored along the way.

While I like to think I remember the “important” things, my lack of crystal-clear recollection about my wedding day may betray that. However, the memory of the details would seem to be less important than the memory of the commitment that was made. Essentially, that memory, which has become our mission, has lasted well into the present.


“...the memory of the details would seem to be less important than the memory of the commitment that was made.”


I think about this in the context of not just a marriage but also in the variety of places I’ve served. In the past year, I’ve been part of difficult discussions with the boards of two different nonprofits I’ve volunteered with where the missions had become faded memories and, unfortunately, so had the commitments that were no longer being lived out.

In one organization, artistic black-and-white photos line hallways, capturing celebrations and events that seem to show a thriving mission. Unfortunately, just as the photos and joyous memories faded, so did the focus on the mission.

In the Bible, I see the pattern of God calling wayward people and even institutions back to Him and the commitments they made. In Jeremiah 6, God calls them to “look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”

Perhaps that’s the role of memory, no matter how faded: to remind us of the commitments we’ve made and then to serve as a road marker, a way back to the ancient ways to the callings we’ve been given.


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