Most of the graduation speeches for 2022 have been concluded. Some were congratulatory. Some carried advice to the graduates about the way to succeed in life. Some were humorous, and a few were entertaining. If you have been a graduate, you may remember some of the advice you were given. Unfortunately, the content of many of the speeches has been forgotten.

One of the most frequent admonitions of Scripture is summed up in one word: REMEMBER!

Yet too many of us forget some of the most important things we should remember. Other influences attempt to dissuade us from remembering.

What do we need to remember?

Looking back is one way we discover some important lessons. Many of us learned the lessons of the history of the world and the history of our country in a public education classroom. Usually, the lessons that have remained with us were learned under the influence of a teacher who made the lessons interesting. Some of those teachers were very demanding but, in the process, we learned many truths we now remember. The lessons that impacted us last longer than those that have little input on our thinking and memories. Longfellow was right when he said: “Lives of great men all remind us, we may make our lives sublime: and departing, leave behind us, foot prints on the sands of time.” I remember two high school teachers that taught me the importance of grammar and emphasized writing skills as highly important. Each of them created an appetite for learning as well as finding useful the skills they taught me.

Looking ahead becomes important to the process of planning. When we remember the lessons of the past, we can more easily plan the steps toward the future. How many great statesmen have reminded us of the fact that not remembering or studying the past leaves us vulnerable to repeat the same errors as others who went before us? Sometimes, the lessons we learn from our failures are the guidelines for our eventual successes!

Looking up allows us to reconsider the blessings we’ve received. Being grateful is a significant way to remember. When the American flag is raised, some of the memories of our past bring joy to our present. One of the thoughts that remain with me is this: Gratitude is seeing a sunset and knowing whom to thank. Too often we claim self-sufficiency and become proudly complacent when all of our successes and accomplishments are born from faith in the eternal. Recognizing that what we look forward to contributes not only to our sense of gratitude but also to our determination to express thanksgiving for God’s blessings.

Remembering is enhanced by our recall of blessings in the past and our gratitude and anticipation of blessings that will occur in the present and the future. The Bible gives us succinct instructions for remembering.

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth…” Instilling in our minds the important lessons of life is the intellectual and emotional insurance against pessimism in the face of discouragement. What is learned in our childhood and youth is a guardrail against the dangerous curves on life’s roadway.

Memory can bring us to realization. The thief on the cross asked near the end of his life, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus assured him of resurrection life at that moment. In the story of the rich man in hell, Abraham told him to remember that he had a good life on earth whereas the beggar had little comfort. In one case memory led to confession, but in the second memory became a torment. How we incorporate our memories into our lives makes a difference.

Memory is an undeniable storage bin. The past can haunt us or bless us, but what we store in our memory cases will remain. Make good memories that will bless your future!

Dr. James E. Kilgore retired as President of the International Family Foundation and lives in Canton. His most recent book, “Living Without Limits,” was published in late 2019 and is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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