Photography has been a hobby of mine for a while now and in this digital age I have made an effort to make sure my photo files don’t remain just on the computer, but printed for us to have and look back on. I am in the annual habit of making a family photobook, filled with hundreds of pictures from the past year. In addition to the yearly photobook, I wanted to have one made documenting our journey with Arthur.
Shutterfly is my favorite site to use and for a year and a half, I’ve had a book for Arthur made and sitting in my “Projects” folder, waiting to be completed and printed. It contains all the photos I had from my pregnancy with him and his short life, and I also included the blog posts from when we started until shortly after his death. By the time I completed it, the book was 80 pages long and too pricey to fit in my budget. But a special deal came last month and I was able to get it for 80% off. I was thrilled to finally have a chance to get it printed.
The book arrived last week and I could not have been more giddy receiving a package in the mail.
As a bereaved parent, items like this are so helpful as we try to hold onto memories of the time with our child. While some dimensions of our memories can never be recovered – his smell, what it felt like to hold his little body in my arms, the feeling of kissing his cheeks – the photos help us to remember what he looked like, and the blog entries can evoke some of the emotions of that time.
It is a treasured possession that I hope will be passed down in my family some day – a testimony of the meaningfulness of even a very brief life.
When I read through the Old Testament, I see a frequent pattern of how God’s people relate to Him and it often baffles me: God does a miraculous work of deliverance –> the people rejoice for a little while –> the people forget, grumble and doubt God –> God rebukes them –> and God shows great grace, and provides for and delivers them again. I find myself pridefully thinking how I would respond totally different if I was in their circumstance.
But then I consider my life and I realize I am much more like them than I initially thought. God has brought me through one of life’s great tragedies; He has grown and deepened my trust in Him; and He has set before me the hope of heaven like I had not experienced previously. Yet, since then I have given into anxiety and fear over much smaller things. I have found in my own life a pattern similar to that of the Israelites.
In the chapters after the giving of the ten commandments, this warning repeats itself: “take care lest you forget the Lord” (Deut. 6:12, 8:11). Those who have seen God do mighty things are prone to forget. When we forget the Lord and forget His ways, we are anxious. We are fearful. We grumble and complain. We doubt. We sin. Like the Israelites, if I do not take care, I can easily forget who He is and the great mountains He has moved in my life. After considering these things for myself, I understand why the refrain “remember the Lord your God” is found over and over in Scripture.
You shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, the outstretched arm, by which the Lord your God brought you out. Deuteronomy 7: 18-19
And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness… Deuteronomy 8:2
My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you… Psalm 42:6
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:11-12
Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgements he uttered… Psalm 105:5
Remembering is an important discipline in the life of a Christian; in good times, to keep us humble and dependent on Him, but also in bad times when we have difficulty seeing beyond our circumstances. What is it we as Christ followers are to remember? Who God is, what He has done, and what He has promised for those who are His. Remember how He created the earth and all that is in it, and that nothing is out of His control. Remember His faithfulness of old throughout history. Remember the empty tomb and that death has been defeated forever. Remember how he has been faithful to you personally in specific ways and how he has delivered you from great difficulties before. Remember what He has promised for His children for this life, but more importantly for the life to come. Remember God. And when you do, you can better trust Him in your current circumstances and enjoy being in His loving care, even if it feels like He isn’t there.
I titled the book “Remembering Arthur Neale Van Sciver”, but I think the book does much more than that for me. It is the story of his short life, but even greater, it is the story of God working in an ordinary family through a great tragedy to do extraordinary things. I think a more appropriate title would be “Remembering God Through The Special Life of Arthur Neale Van Sciver”. This is why I am thankful to have this book in my possession. Yes, it helps me to remember my son, who is so deeply loved. But it helps me remember my God, who met me in my deepest sorrow and disappointment, and made it for my good and for the good of others. If there are days, or weeks, or dare I say years that I forget, I pray my Bible and these remembrance tools will help bring me back to the God who has done marvelous things for me.