The first night I went to serve on a local board, I was a wreck.
I was not quite sure I could remember all of Robert’s Rules of Order. I was worried about what to wear, and what to say, and wondered if people would think I belonged or I they would see the giant sign around my neck that said “I Have Never Done This Before.” I was scared I would say “aye” at the wrong time.
The first night was awkward. I had to introduce myself a lot. I was not sure if people would like me or even remember me. And though I did not do anything stupid, I still had that vague, nagging sense of not-belonging.
Now, a year later, the meetings are routine, I know everyone and they know me, and I belong and I know what to do. I take part in discussions and help make decisions and those old nerves feel like a thing of the past. But when I stepped in recently and saw a man sitting alone at the big table shared by the board members, nervously flipping through his notebook, I felt a pang of recollection.
He stood and stuck his hand out. “Hi,” he said with a nervous laugh. “I’m the newbie. Hopefully I won’t cramp everyone’s style tonight.”
I did my very best to be nice to him and to make him feel comfortable, because I remember. I recall exactly what it was like at the beginning. And you probably do, too. When your child is dreading the first day of school, you remember. When a friend has a nervous fit over starting a new job, you remember. You remember when it was the first time for you, too. You remember what that was like. And the remembering changes you.
Don’t forget: God remembers, too.
We’ve lost our collective ability to recall it as a species, but God remembers the earliest days. He remembers hovering over the waters. He remembers the halcyon days with Adam and Eve, of walking in the garden: the times when He could look upon creation and see that it was good. The time before ruin.
And it makes me smile to think of that.
I am amazed sometimes by God’s persistence. Although I know that God is love, a reading of the Old Testament still astonishes me: why does He keep coming back? How is it that God is able to grieve a list of sins and betrayals and then, only a page or two later, turn around and promise redemption, renewal, and hope?
But God remembers the beginning of us. He knows what redemption will be like and look like: He has promised it. And somehow His limitless love finds a way. He sees what is, but He sees the potential, too: the promise ahead and what a future realized with those who love Him will be. And He wants it enough to make it happen.
Wherever you are today, recall that you’re in the middle – and remember your beginning, and how far you’ve come, and how much more there is ahead for you. Most of all, remember that God remembers our beginning, and has wonders in store for us that we cannot even fathom.
The God who walked in the garden with Adam and Eve in the beginning in the cool of the day, because of His great love, hasn’t given up on us. And that changes everything.