In case you’ve been under a rock or in a coma, this is Dory. Stick with me here.
Dory is a character from Finding Nemo, and now its sequel Finding Dory. She is a bubbly, quirky little fish who has a particular disorder. In the sequel a flashback shows us adorable younger Dory explaining that she has “short-term remembery loss”. That phrase strikes me really, really deeply. On the radio this week Jeff and Rebecca, morning show hosts for a local Christian station, discussed it and pointed out that like Dory we are all God’s special-needs kids. It’s true, but it misses strumming the deeper chord.
See, we all have short-term remembery loss. Every one of us. Don’t believe me? Need convincing? I’ll start small. Ever taken anything or anyone for granted? Ever been the kid who forgot a toy 20 minutes after all the Christmas unwrapping was done? Left your cell phone at home? Missed a deadline at work? Complained that your raise wasn’t enough? Well, then, brothers and sisters, you’ve had remembery loss. You lost sight of something critical because you were distracted by something else. We forget to be grateful, we forget to be cordial, we forget our manners, we forget what life used to be like. Kind of stings, right? Yeah, me too. The next one really hurts.
Ever been so filled with the Spirit on Sunday morning you were bursting at the seams but by Monday afternoon you’re cussing the ground? Yeah. Ouch. Have you ever drifted away from God and no matter what you did you just couldn’t reconnect with Him? You remember what it was to be close to Him in the way Dory remembers she has a family, but just as she can’t remember who or where they are or how she got separated from them we can’t remember who or where He is or how we lost Him to begin with. Yeah, short-term remembery loss is a real buzz-kill. But let me give us another dose of conviction: our loss is selective. Oh, yes. We don’t forget the anger, the indignance, the callousness or lack of respect. We don’t forget the pain or the darkness or the sorrow or the serpent.
No, what we forget is the lamb. What we forget is the Love, the joy, the gratitude, the light, the life. We forget the good, the right, the miraculous. We see the manna in disgust and forget the astounding Love that made it fall. We forget it is a blessing. Because while we call our brains difference engines what they are calibrated to measure the difference of is not the pure delta, but rather how much worse one thing, one event, one experience, one person is from the ideal. We constantly and consistently seek anything that doesn’t align to our idea of perfection and we attack that, we focus on it, we make it a defining tent pole on which to attach…. what? What is it we’re looking for? What is it we needed? We just can’t remember. It was just here; just give us a second.
While we’re trying to remember we see another thing that doesn’t meet our ideal and we latch onto it. And again we forget why. All the while there is the voice; the small whisper that tells you the thing you’re looking at isn’t good enough for you, that if you were in charge it wouldn’t be like that. That if you just get tired enough of looking at all this brokenness you can take it all over, own it all. Forgetfulness makes us angry, and in our anger that voice is as appealing as honey. “It’s right” we say to ourselves. “I do just need to be in charge! Let’s go take over!”
But guess what? Now you’re forgetting that you forgot something. But the itch of it is still there. Let me play my part in The Matrix, as Morpheus: There’s something you know, but what you know you can’t explain; there’s something wrong with the world, and it’s there in your mind, like a splinter, driving you mad. Do you want to know what it is you’re searching for? What it is you’ve forgotten? What it is you know? What is driving you to measure all these differences? It’s OK; you’ve got short-term remembery loss, so you don’t remember I’ve told you already.
You’ve forgotten that you don’t live here. You’ve forgotten that the thing you’re measuring against is the perfect, the dumbfounding, the astounding and Almighty God, Lord of Heaven, and your Father. You’ve forgotten Him, but not completely. There’s a world of details you’ve lost along the way, so let me remind you. Are you ready? Hold onto it, and I mean it. Focus everything you have to remember this. It’s the most important thing you can ever hear, can ever hold onto. Write it down and put it in your pocket so you can look at it every time you forget.
You don’t live here. The world around you? All that darkness, all that corruption, all that evil? It’s not real. You got tricked. We got tricked. Someone told you you could be God, and it confused you. It messed up your remembery. It made you see past the light and see only the shadows, like a bad hypnotism trick. You don’t live here. The world you see is a fiction; that world is long gone. That voice trying to tell you I’m wrong, he isn’t real. He was destroyed a long, long, long time ago. See, he’s an angel and they don’t die like we do; his voice carries, but he isn’t there. He’s trying to convince you he’s still relevant, that he’s still right, that you can prove him right. It messed you up so bad you’ve forgotten if you are trying to prove him right or wrong. Let me tell you who you are, what’s real.
You are royalty. You are a child of the most high God, creator of the universe. You are citizen of His Kingdom, a glorious world where His face shines eternally upon you. You’re there right now. He has given you reign of the castle, and your room is lavish and beautiful. He is your Father; His casa es su casa. And He is a doting Father; He spends His every moment with you, tending you, watching you, cheering you, Loving you, helping you, guiding you, supporting you. You are next in line to His command, above the angels and the citizens of heaven. Your world is filled with light, with laughter, with strength, with peace, with happiness. He saw you look down at the shadows, listen to that nasty lying voice, and He’s trying to train you to beat it. He’s training you to see the light again, but you keep forgetting. You keep losing that thread. The farther you go down that rabbit hole the more you forget, but remember now. Remember that day in clear hot air when He mounted Himself up on a cross and cleansed you. Remember when He brought you home to the Kingdom to live, set His Spirit upon you to teach you, to lead you. Remember when he taught you to laugh, to feel true, deep joy.
You’re starting to forget again. You’re starting to think about the things that you forgot and getting concerned that you’d ever lost it. I hear those guilty thoughts, but stop. Look away from them. Stay with me. None of that is real. Only He is real. He is real, He is alive, He is risen. He is holding you to Him, He is staring into your eyes and asking you to come back, to shake it off. All that’s happened is meaningless, intended only to show you the truth. Look back at it, carefully. Look at that picture of your past, but hold His hand and mine as you do it. Be ready to come back. Ok, now don’t look at the shadows, look at what’s causing the shadows. That light. See how in truth it permeates everything in that picture? That picture isn’t dark, it’s brilliant. You’ve been convinced it isn’t so, but doesn’t that seem silly now? That someone could convince you, that you could convince yourself, it was dark? It’s ok. We’ve got remembery loss.
While I can remember I have to tell you so you can tell me when I forget. That’s what we’re here for: to remind each other. Remember? He told us it’s dinner time and to go get our brothers and sisters. That’s why we’re out here looking. You’re measuring everything against Him to find your siblings, who look like Him, to bring them back home for dinner. That stupid voice just keeps confusing you long enough that you forget all that. He’s a bitter old shark, but bypass him. Just keep swimming. Just keep your eyes on your Father. When you’re straight-minded again you can go back to looking for our brothers and sisters. You’re going to forget again. So am I. I know it seems sad, but it isn’t. It’s ok. Don’t worry. We’re almost done. We’ve just got a few more out there to bring home. Then we’ll all be able to remember better. We’re all a part of each other, so when some of us are looking at the shadows we all get mixed up. But it’s ok, because some of us still remember and now you remember, too. That’ll keep happening, because He’s here to remind us every opening we give Him.
Father, I know my remembery is really broken, but thank You for reminding me, for filling me in. I don’t know if I told it right, but I know some will hear and remember. I pray for them so deeply. Thank You, Lord, for this most perfect plan, and thank You for giving me such comfort, such beauty to behold. I Love You. In the name of Your Word, and my brother, Jesus, I pray. Amen!