Carroll really was brilliant, wasn’t he? Because that’s a great observation: in this natural world of ours, our memories only work backwards.
But how about in the supernatural world, the realm of the One who invented the universe and everything in it, including human beings with memories that often take us places we'd rather be -- or would rather not ever experience again?
Is it possible that in looking backwards, we’re glimpsing our futures?
I’ve long suspected that this might be the case, that, for the born-again believer in Jesus Christ, those joyful memories that fill us with such longing for the past may actually be glimpses of the joy awaiting us for all eternity. And maybe, just maybe, those who reject Christ until it’s too late experience the opposite phenomenon – recalling painful earthly memories that are warnings of the eternal anguish they face without the Savior.
I have no evidence that any of this is true. But if it is, then we really do have memories that work both backward and forward in the most profound and powerful way.
The believer’s joy is truly wonderful. And it can be experienced at any time, simply by remembering the happiest of times.
My childhood chum Cathy reminded me recently of one such beloved memory. It was from the '60s, and the days that she and I rode horseback together -- days when we would occasionally grab our sleeping bags and our other little friends and sleep out in the apple orchard near our barn.
I can’t remember much of what we did during these adventures – told ghost stories, I suppose, and spied on the migrant workers' barracks and gossiped and snacked on whatever treats we had managed to lug along up the big hill and through the local Rifle Range and past the barbed wire fence encircling the orchard. But I do remember Cathy's battery-operated record player and the 45s we listened to, over and over, until the melodies and lyrics were indelibly imprinted on our lives.
There was one song in particular that to this day evokes in my heart silhouettes of stout trees and wild grass, the sound of crickets and the scent of apples and an irrepressible sense of crazy happiness and belonging – a song that now, instead of making me look back with longing, points my heart heavenward, to eternal joy.
Here's the song. I don’t suppose it’ll mean anything to most of you, but maybe it will to a few – especially one by the name of Cathy.