When I was a kid, there was a Kodak commercial that showed an older mother packing up pictures as she and her retired husband were moving out of the home they’d been in for years. Each picture of her son told the story of him growing up over the years and spoke of the family’s making all sorts of memories and, of course, taking pictures while they did it. The song playing for the commercial was, at least to me as eleven or twelve year old, a haunting melody with the words, “for the times of your life…” being sung. (You can watch the commercial here)
For some reason after seeing that commercial I would lay in bed at night and think. I would think about dying and what would it be like after I was gone. Would anyone remember me? Would anyone care? Maybe my parents or children or wife or sisters would miss me, but would anyone else? How soon would I be forgotten completely? I would think about the world without me and how it would keep going…and how it had been going for a long time before I got here.
That led me to think backward. My mind would travel to the days long gone by of historic events and biblical characters and eventually to before even the world’s beginning. I would ponder (as much as I could at eleven or twelve years old) the vastness of the universe and what nothing was like. How did everything get started? Random molecules colliding? Some nuclear explosion? But, if that was it, how did the molecules get there? Who caused the explosion?
I felt so small and scared. And yet, in that place I knew one thing: there had to be a first cause; there had to be a God. I felt completely overwhelmed at the thoughts that my mind was chasing after. I was scared, because in this enormous universe who would notice little me? What did I matter?
I thought of these things this morning when I read Jesus’ interaction with the religious leaders of his day in John 8. I was especially struck by John 8:58, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” The thought that Jesus, who was just over thirty at the time he said those things, had been around before Abraham; before the foundation of the world when the world was void and formless; when there was nothing, that thought took me right back to those thoughts I’d had as an eleven or twelve year old.
But this time, though I felt the same small, insignificant, overwhelmed feeling in my chest – in fact, for a moment the thoughts made me physically dizzy – I wasn’t scared. I was comforted. Jesus had been there. He’d seen it all. He’d been Lord of it all. And that same Jesus, he’s the one who would remember me. Whenever I leave this earth and this physical body, He’s the one who will be there to welcome me home. He knows me. He loves me. He died for me. Even as I type this, tears well up in my eyes to think of how completely known and loved I am by him.
This morning, looking out as the world was waking, at the birds feeding, and thinking about the great I AM, my heart was filled with peace and joy at the mystery of it all. As this day begins, I can’t help but wonder, “what does He have in store for me?”! We’re going to make it a memorable day.