As much as these dramatic, intimate encounters with a personal God are invitations to forget, they are also invitations to remember.
To remember that the whole world isn't like that. To remember that not everything is out to get you. To remember that in the darkest night, the sun is just around the corner. That in the fiercest storm, there is a remnant of calm (the eye of the hurricane, the breaking of the clouds). To remember that, thank God, there is something bigger in all of this than you. That memory alone takes the pressure off.
Remembering makes you fell less singled-out, less targeted, less universally chosen without your permission for the persecutions of life. It gives you a little new space to breathe, to gather your head, and to see realistically what's happening because, at least as I so often find, it's never really as big as you make it out to be. Not in the grand scheme of things. Not in the encounter.
That little breath, that little bit of perspective that comes from remembering invites you to remember something else, too. Something called hope.
Let me preface this by saying, I get it. If you're stuck in that place right now where there's not a lot to hang onto, nothing I'm going to say right now is going to get you one step away from hopeless. I've been there. I can't tell you the prolonged stretches, the endless nights that I'd have to be honest and say I wouldn't have seen hope if you'd smacked me in the face with it in a closet of a thousand light bulbs and mirrors. That's darkness. It's a terrible place to be stuck; it just gets hold of you and all this talk I'm about to do about hope grates against whatever few nerves you have left. If you're there, I acknowledge the power of that place and please don't take my words offensively. But if you've got one shred in you willing to look at a bigger story, then these words are for you.
Because honestly, when I think back, there has been a piece of me that dared to hope. Not in the darkest, darkest moments, maybe, but more often than not, there has been a piece of me longing for something more. Something better. Something greater. These encounters with God are a chance to remember that hope...because for a moment, it is that hope.
It is everything I dreamed of, everything I dared to imagine. It is everything I would never have let myself entertain out loud for fear of looking foolish but everything I harbored in my heart that one day might be.
In remembering, you know that there is this thing out there that once upon a time, you believed in. And now here it is, it's happening. Maybe not forever, but for this moment it is. For this moment, you remember and that helps you in the next one. When the lights go out again, when darkness falls, when life sucks you back in and it seems God is suddenly so far away, you can't forget that split second you remembered.
Then you remember to remember. You have the audacity to stare trouble in the face and remember peace. You have the audacity to hope amidst the hopelessness. You remember...because that encounter, that intimate moment with a personal God, that invitation to remember...is a moment you can never forget.