Like everyone else in the world, I had an Etch-A-Sketch when I was young. When my wife and I had kids, we bought one for them as well. (You really only need one in the house) I have great admiration for anyone who could draw anything resembling anything identifiable on it, since the only thing I could draw were stairs.
The best part of an Etch-A-Sketch was also its worst. If you messed up on a picture, you turn it upside down, shake it a few times and it was gone. The bad new was that if you made a beautiful picture worth the admiration of your friends, it could easily be erased by an evil-minded sibling.
There’s a spiritual metaphor somewhere in there for sure.
People are like Etch-A-Sketches. We learn important lessons and then with a shake of our heads, like what a cartoon character does after getting bonked on the head by a falling anvil, the lesson disappears.
Throughout human history, and certainly in the Bible, we see examples of people who make the same mistake twice, three-times or more, simply because they forgot God or what was important, or a lesson they once learned.
If you have been a Christian for a few years, you have ended up reading or studying something that you studied before. Sure, you studied Ephesians three years ago. I guarantee if you study it again this year, you’ll be reminded of something you completely forgot and see new things that you never thought of before.
Sunday school curriculum publishers have a multi-year scope and sequence of lessons that are repeated so a young person would learn about Elijah and Elisha when they are ages 5, 9 and 13…as an example. At each age, they add something new to the story. Then, as adults that person is reminded in a sermon, or in a group or self-study of that same story of Elijah and Elisha and they add more bricks to their strong tower of Biblical knowledge and wisdom.
I am sure everyone knows someone (maybe you) who attended Sunday School when they were young, learned all sorts of Bible stuff, then wandered away from the church for a time.
When they finally reached of a point of no return in their life, where they needed to choose between spiritual or even physical life and death, the lessons from those Sunday School lessons came flooding back to mind as they accepted Christ into their lives. And all those seemingly disconnected stories made sense…part of a continuing story that God gave us.
So, why do we need to communicate some of the same things over and over?
Because people forget.
How many times have you heard a sermon on the prodigal son?
Isn’t the narrative of the Israelites wandering in the desert after being liberated from Egypt a story about forgetting and reminding?
- How many books do we need to remind us that our God is a loving God?
- How many more do we need to remind us that we are not alone in our trials and troubles?
- How many more books need to be written to make us look up rather than seeing only our circumstances?
- How many more books need to be written to remind us of God’s promises for us every day?
- How many Christmas stories need to be written to give a different perspective on the incarnation of the King of Kings?
- How many more books do we need to help marriages?
- How many more novels need to be written that put all of the above into story form?
The answer: More and more every year. (And not just because I work in publishing)
I happen to think that Christians are in a battle for the hearts and minds of people on this earth. Books are one of the weapons we can use to push back on the darkness.
And there is a lot of darkness in this world, populated by forgetful people.
Dan, this is a great post. It sounds like you and I were cut from the same Etch-a-Sketch ability (or lack of) cloth. I was a master at drawing stairs. 🙂
Applying the whole erasing/forgetting lessons aspect to real life though…..you’re spot on. I appreciate your encouragement to keep writing. The themes I write on can speak to people. My voice may speak to a reader in a way that she may not be able to hear if she read someone else’s book with a similar theme. And vice versa. We do need reminders. As a mom with youngish children . . . I seem to need a lot of reminders. 😉
Thanks for the food for thought and the encouragement this morning!
My boxes were top notch. Surprised I didn’t go pro. 🙂
I agree with Jeanne. Great post! And a great reminder for me in my personal life. We’re never there; we can always learn and grow more Christlike, no matter how long we’ve been saved.
Being of the Etch-A-Sketch era and artistically inclined I was frustrated at the confines of the small colorless frame.
After decades I’m always amazed how the same scripture speaks to us in different ways depending on where we are in life. I’m convinced that’s how God designed it. And he knew repetition was needed for his stubborn people.
Great analogy. Thanks Dan.
I’d like to put an Amen to that. We need to be reminded over and over and over again. Our memories are the definition of ephemeral. And each time we learn the lesson, we learn something more.
Great post, Dan. And a real encouragement for authors. Writing is indeed a calling. If we make a difference for “one,” we can ultimately make a difference for many.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things
Martin Luther King Jr.
Great reminder…and count me in on the Etch a Sketch era!
What a perfect illustration of how quickly we forget the important things. It’s no wonder there is so much repetition in the Bible! A well written and appreciatively received post.