Carlyle Marney, Christian educator, preacher and author, tells the story of the words his mother spoke to him whenever he left home.
When she kissed him goodbye on his first day of kindergarten, she began the tradition which would last her lifetime: “Carlyle, remember where you come from.”
When he went to scout camp, drove the family car for the first time, went on his first date, left for college, started his first job, married, and welcomed his children into the world, she earnestly reminded him: “Remember where you come from.”
The tradition continued up to the last words which his mother spoke before her death as she faintly whispered in his ear, “Carlyle, remember where you come from.”
Just 10 generations after the first humans came to their earthly home where only love was found in God’s creation, God’s children forgot their origin. The earth and most of what was in it had gone the way of corruption. Violence and destruction were rampant. Evil, such as hate, jealousy and murder, drowned out the words God invoked at creation. God no longer viewed creation “good,” but rather viewed it as vile and corrupt at the hands of all God had created in God’s own image.
Almost immediately after their earthly birth, men and women began to pull away from the One who provided their home. They chafed under the care of the One who could teach them to become God’s gardeners. Humans thought they were the omnipotent ones! They acted as if they themselves had created everything. They used God’s creation for their own purposes. Like children playing with fire, they inflamed disaster and gambled with their own chips. Like adults playing the game in which the winner is declared the one with the most toys, they stepped all over each other. Clearly humanity had forgotten its origin.
Genesis 6-9 tells of God’s frustration and despair with humanity’s forgetfulness. God wept. Then God appointed Noah to tend the original legacy. He built an ark as directed by the Creator. Together with his family, Noah brought pairs of animals on board. While the remainder of life perished, the ship weathered the storm and came to rest on dry land. God speaks. “I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living thing. … When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant with every living creature of all flesh that is on earth.” (Genesis 9:15-16)
Clearly, God initiated and established this covenant, and took the divine responsibility to remember it. This covenant would be as good as God is good, and it would be upheld in God’s eternal faithfulness. Never would it need to be renewed, regardless of the acts of humanity. Generation after generation would rest in the arms of this promise.
I think of this promise as I marvel at God’s faithfulness despite humanity’s destructive nature. Physically, we pollute, and God cleanses. Psychologically we threaten, and God protects. Emotionally we fear, and God embraces us. Spiritually we forget, and God calls us home to remember the promise.
When we remember our origins, we remember the God who creates, loves, accepts and heals. When we remember where we come from, we put aside the desires of our own hearts and live in God’s calling. Then, despite the wars of the world, peace prevails, hope springs eternal, and love reigns.