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Posts Tagged ‘flashbacks’

Isn’t it amazing how some little, fleeting incident can trigger an absolute avalanche of vivid memories at times? One moment, we may be grounded firmly in the present, yet the next, our minds are hurtled back to some experience perhaps years earlier. Of course, if the original event was traumatic in any way, such flashbacks can be extremely unsettling. Yet they can also serve to remind us how faithful God has been to us in our lives.

One morning recently (before lockdown!), I was a passenger on the Rivercat, as it headed along the Parramatta River into the city. I could hear the throb of the engines and feel the ferry rocking, as it sliced its way through the wake left by another nearby ferry. The next moment, I was almost overwhelmed with memories of other boat trips taken in Turkey years ago, during several visits to a friend there. This friend was now my reason for heading into the city—she was in hotel quarantine there and I wanted to take her some goodies. No doubt that was why I was susceptible to memories of Turkey that morning, yet their strength and suddenness still took my breath away.

The first memory that surfaced was of a trip across the Bosphorus with my friend from one part of the huge city of Istanbul to another, in a ferry much larger and more crowded than my Sydney Rivercat. Everything was new and strange to me, yet it was all so colourful and interesting. On that trip, I remember how determined I was to stay glued to my friend, come what may. After all, I did not know any Turkish or understand how everything worked.

Then in a flash, I remembered another ferry trip across the Bosphorus a few years later, this time on my own. On that occasion, after a hairy taxi ride where our driver kept falling asleep, my host hurriedly waved goodbye and pointed to my ferry which was about to depart. I dashed for it—and made it. Then it dawned on me that there I was, alone on a crowded ferry, a foreigner who knew little Turkish and still with a bus to catch to the airport when we eventually docked. Time was fast ticking away—but amazingly, by God’s grace, I made it onto that plane.

Other less alarming trips in tourist boats along the Mediterranean coast came to mind too. From time to time, the crew would pull into beautiful coves and islands to enable us all to swim in that pristine, blue water or explore the fascinating sights nearby. What a privilege to enjoy such unique experiences with my friend!

I returned with a jolt to the present. Then a moment later, a huge wave of thankfulness rose up in me, as I realised how each of those memories had highlighted God’s amazing grace in my life in one way or another. Truly, God has watched over me, not only through all those rich experiences I had just relived, but throughout my whole life, even in times of challenge and confusion—and I am so grateful.

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise? Psalm 106:1-2

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Have you ever thought about all those billions of memories stored inside your brain? We can consciously remember so much—but even when we think we have forgotten certain experiences altogether, some little thing may happen that catapults us back in time, whether we like it or not. In an instant, we are in the midst of some past event again, noticing everything in vivid detail and even feeling the same emotions we felt then.

This happened to me recently when our washing machine decided not to spin anymore. I resorted to washing by hand—and immediately, a memory surfaced from around fifteen years ago when I was travelling around Turkey with a friend. Often, we would wash our clothes in the shower, then drape them over chairs on our balcony to dry. In an instant, I could hear again in my mind the voices of the nearby shop owners vying for custom, smell the freshly baked bread and feel the warm Mediterranean sun on my arms. In my mind, I was back there in Turkey, revelling in it all once again.

But I know painful memories can sometimes be triggered too and catch us completely off guard. Years ago, I experienced this in a public setting, to my embarrassment. Everyone else was laughing at something funny that was happening, but I found it hard not to cry, as it triggered a memory of a distressing event in the past. Yet I was thankful for this painful moment in the end, since it helped me understand the agony those who have survived great trauma in their lives often experience on a regular basis via flashbacks.

As I thought more about these memories, both good and bad, I sensed God prompting me to apply my reflections to my faith journey too. Yes, I can remember many times when God lovingly rescued and strengthened me in all sorts of situations and when I sensed Jesus’ presence right beside me, even to the point of feeling his hand on my shoulder. But it was as if God wanted me to realise there have been so many other such occasions that have now passed from my conscious memory—difficult times when God watched over me and held me close, but also wonderful, happy times when God rejoiced with me and cheered me on in my journey.

Whether I can clearly remember each time or not, God has been and always will be with me, wherever I go and whatever happens in my life, in joy and in sorrow—forever. I love how God keeps reassuring us of this fact in different ways and places in Scripture.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20

I will not leave you as orphans … John 14:18

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

In these strange times, may we constantly remember these words. May they remain embedded in our hearts and minds—forever.

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