Carry Forever

Some moments are so intense we will forever have them etched into our memories; we will carry them around forever. It was my senior year.
I did not have a first-period class and was waking up in the morning. I grabbed a bowl of cereal and sat down in front of the TV, and then I would head off to school. The show I was watching was a newscast rather than my regularly scheduled program. The moment that was playing on repeat was two Boeing 767s slamming into the side of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001.
At first, I thought it was a movie; only after repeated viewings did the gravity of the events sink into my consciousness. Seeing this changed me, and two months later, I signed up for the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP) for the United States Air Force.
The memories seem so distant now and yet vivid at the same time. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to be an eyewitness to these events, how it must be forever engrained in their memories.
Now, we have closed-circuit television cameras and the ability to record virtually everything 24/7. Yet, for the majority of human history, we have relied on eyewitness testimony because when a significant event happens, someone who was there will have it etched into their minds forever. If you want to know what happened, you can ask them, and you trust their testimony, especially if additional witnesses can corroborate it.
Paul makes this point as he writes to the church in Corinth. He wants them to go and investigate more about the most significant event in history.
1 Corinthians 15:3-11
“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 5 He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. 6 After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. 9 For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. 10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me–and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 11 So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the same message you have already believed.”
Paul knows how impossible these events seem. Therefore, he gives the church in Corinth a starting point to go and discover more on their own. Paul says, “Go talk to Peter, the apostles, 500 followers, James (probably his brother and writer of the book of James), and you can even ask me.” Why does Paul want them to ask? So that they can also understand the extraordinary events that took place. Paul could have said, “Trust me, I am reliable.” Instead, he points out that he would be the last person to validate a claim like this. He had every motivation to squash the concept of a resurrected Christ, but he could not unsee the most miraculous event in history.
A moment on the road to Damascus was forever etched into his memory. Paul also knew that because of his acknowledgment and ultimate submission to Christ, God’s grace covered him and produced real and tangible results; because of what Paul saw, he was a changed man. Witnessing this event changed his life’s path forever.
It is easy for us to dismiss 2000-year-old claims. The reality is that for Paul, the apostles, and 500 witnesses, these were life-changing moments, and their testimonies bolster our faith even today. They could not betray their eyes, and many suffered cruel deaths to proudly stand by what they had witnessed. And yet, this legacy does not end with them.
Although I may not have had a vision on the road to Damascus, I have encountered the resurrected Christ, and I am forever changed. Every time I open the Word, the mind of God is revealed to me, and I am humbled in His presence. Even though I may not have seen his death, burial, and resurrection with my own eyes, I can proudly say, “this I know with all my heart, his wounds have paid my ransom.”
We can bear the testimony and witness of the change in our lives and the impact on the world around us- and these are the moments we will carry forever.

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