A Personal Remembrance

Three things have coalesced to create this post.

I preached yesterday on Psalm 124 and stated within my introduction that in many ways, gospel ministry is a ministry of reminder. The entire message was framed as four important reminders; the whole context of the Songs of Ascent we're walking through is the spiritual renewal around festivals of remembrance. Those ideas are one piece of this post.

Another piece is the recent news of deteriorating health of Ravi Zacharias, the well-known Christian apologist who lives in the area and whose global ministry, RZIM, is located close right here in our community. Perhaps you have seen all over social media platforms one or more of the many tributes being written and posted about his impact. He will be passing into the fullness of life soon. He has had a formidable kingdom influence on this world and has fulfilled his purpose in his generation, which is all anyone of us could hope to do.

The third thing that has led to this post is graduation season. John Krasinski honored graduates on his weekly must-watch YouTube program Some Good News (SGN), last week. Former President Barak Obama, along with many other celebrities helped to give graduates a virtual commencement they could remember during this pandemic which has robbed so many of their would-be celebrations. We have received some graduation announcements from friends and family as well. It is a significant event in a young person's life. We need these markers and celebrations.

So, what do all these have to do with one another? There is a very concrete memory I have. I finished high school at Providence Christian Academy in Lilburn 21 years ago this month, in a graduating class of 62 I think, and Ravi Zacharias delivered the commencement address, in which he emphasized the importance of what we remember and what we forget.

I wasn't dialed into the privilege of the moment in that moment, from the standpoint of our speakers notoriety, but I remember being riveted to Dr. Zacharias' address. It was compelling. He spoke with such clarity, conviction, concern and compassion. He spoke as someone who knew something we really needed to know; who knew Someone we really needed to know. I wonder how many of you remember who spoke at your graduations, much less what they spoke about.

Commencement addresses are supposed to be obligatory and ignorable sentimentality for parents more than actual substantive, life impacting marks on the souls of students, right. But, I have never forgotten title of his address: Postures of the Mind and Affections of the Heart. Nor have I forgotten his message. I was remembering last night, being an 18-year-old kid, staring over the unknown horizon at this pregnant and scary moment. And I remember being absoutely convinced by this giant in our generation that my anonymous life mattered; that my future mattered; that the engagement of my mind and heart with reality mattered.

I don't think that speech ignited anything in me. But it fanned a flicker into a flame. His words gave oxygen to this young man's embers for life and meaning and Jesus. I've always been grateful for that. And today, I'm remembering him, and that subtle but consequential event. And I'm remembering myself, and even preaching to others now the importance of remembering that which is ultimately worthy of remembrance, which was a central theme of his address that night.

I searched and was able to find a recording of that message which is below if you are so inclined. It's worth the listen.

You may wonder how such a small school had such a major speaker for their graduation. Well, it just so happens that one of those 62 students was Dr. Zacharias' son, Nathan. Many people are praying for Dr. Zacharias today and are grieving the loss of this winsome ambassador for Christ on the global stage. I'll be praying for Nathan, who is just a young man my age who is losing his dad, and one for whom my heart aches.


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