In the movie Gigi, Honoré Lachaille, played by Maurice Chevalier, and Madame Alvarez, played by Hermione Gingold, sing a song commemorating a romantic night spent together many years before. While he recalls an evening that was lit by a “dazzling April moon,” she declares that it was June and there was no moon. He mentions Friday, but she is certain they were together on a Monday. He envisions her in gold, but she swears she was dressed entirely in blue. Their contradictory memories swing back and forth throughout the song, which is capped by the refrain: “Ah, yes, I remember it well.”
The gentle humor of the lyrics points out something we all know—that people can remember the same event in very different ways.
The same is true when it comes to our ability to remember how God has acted, both in Scripture and in our own lives. Take the Israelites. After fleeing from Egypt, they could have built a society that mimicked Egypt’s cruelty toward the weak and defenseless. That’s often how things go when subjected peoples find freedom. The underdogs become the oppressors. Instead, the Israelites enshrined humane principles in their law regarding the treatment of slaves coupled with the obligation to welcome foreigners, laws far in advance of their contemporaries. They did this because their overarching memories pertained not to the evil they suffered but to the good they experienced from God’s delivering hand.
We, too, have been delivered by a loving and redeeming God. Basing our lives on this memory will free us from the danger of becoming more like the people who have hurt us rather than the God who has saved us. It will also free us from the memory of our own sins and failures as we choose to remember above everything the mercy and love that God has shown us.