I remember the painful day when I accidently threw away all of Jan’s childhood family photos. We were pastoring our first church and our kids were in grade school. Jan’s mom and dad were downsizing so they wanted to make sure all the old family photos pertinent to each of their children were given to them. A cardboard box filled with photographs arrived at our home. I loved listening to Jan chuckle as she went through the box recalling her childhood memories on the mission field in Central America.
One morning, I was getting ready to make a trip to the dump. We collected some items and put them in a few cardboard boxes and set them near the entryway of our home. The box containing the family photos was also in the entryway waiting to be put in storage. For some reason, the box from Jan’s parents was too close to the other boxes of trash and was tossed in my pickup truck and taken to the dump.
An hour after I returned home from the dump, Jan asked where the box of photos had been placed. In horror, we both realized the mistake. I jumped back in my truck and headed to the dump. When I arrived, I rushed out to the immense mountain of garbage now being compressed by one of the largest tractors I had ever seen. I tried to find where I dumped the boxes. It all looked the same. I had a vague idea and began to dig through the piles of garbage by hand. After about ten minutes I knew the box of photos was lost to be discovered some day in the distant future by archaeologists wondering how pictures from Central America were discovered in Kalispell, Montana. I felt horrible. The drive home was not fun. When I told Jan what happened, she was a real trooper and tried to console me in my misery.
It took a few years before we could tell Jan’s parents about the lost box of family photos. Like their daughter, they were kind in their response when they heard the sad news. Within a few weeks, Jan’s father made copies of the most significant family photos and sent us replacements. Only a few images were lost, but many of the most important ones were replaced.
Some of you have had your memories thrown away. They are lost somewhere in a trash pile of past failures. This can happen in the process of a painful divorce, from unexpected financial troubles or for a variety of other reasons simply because we live in a fallen world. You think those memories are lost forever, but God has another plan. Just like my loving and thoughtful in-laws, God has a plan to replace what you lost. Digging around in the garbage heap of your history won’t bring them back. Only a faithful God can do that. Trust Him. With God nothing is ever lost, it will be restored and with that restoration, He will remove all sense of loss.