Van Yandell

Jeremiah 30: 2 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.”

Over the years I’ve found myself hurrying and finally realized I was missing some very important parts of my life by trying to get too many things done. I once heard said, “A journey is not only about the destination, but also about the trip.”

For many years, I’ve believed life is about the experiences we have. During those years, the accumulation of experiences has been first and foremost in my thoughts and actions. Here I am now nearly three-fourths of a century old and still find the new experiences to be satisfying and worth pursuing (Job 12: 12).

Experiences can never be taken from us. Tangible possessions can be confiscated by the government, stolen by a thief or burned or blown away by a storm. Experiences are forever.

At this point in my old age, I find my motorcycle rides, kayak trips and hikes to be a sustaining factor in my survival. One never gets too old to have needs and at this age, many of those needs are psychological. My mind thinks I have to accomplish something every day and satisfaction is not attained unless that happens.

Even an activity such as being out in the woods with a chain saw can be a gratifying experience. I’ve found my quiet time with God is sometimes with the roar of a chain saw and wood chips flying around me.

My experiences, of course, include my baptism. I became a Christian, Easter Sunday, 1955. I was eight years old. My memory of the church pastor explaining the plan of salvation to me is like it happened this morning. I was baptized the next Sunday and that also lingers in my memory (Matthew 28: 18-20).

One of my newest endeavors is to write or record some of my experiences. Several have told me I should write a book, but with the millions of books on the shelves in thrift stores, junk shops and other book depositories, why would anyone read mine?

Over the last few years, my attention has turned to writing articles. Many of those have been to record experiences over the years. Even if they’re never read, there is a certain amount of satisfaction in knowing there is a record.

I’ve often wished my dad and mother had written of their experiences and accumulated family knowledge. The family history would be amazing to this generation. Many times, I’ve wished I could call up my parents and ask questions, but, fully realize when they died, that information was lost forever.

Normally, we think of record keeping being in the form of numbers (money, dates, etc.). To keep records of one’s experiences is just as or more important. My parents lived from 1907 and 1911 until 1984 and 2005. They lived through World War I and II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, the great depression and seeing a man walk on the moon.

Their personal trials and tribulations were monstrous compared to mine. They taught me (because of living through the great depression 1929-1940), to live frugally; save; don’t buy anything unless I had the cash; don’t waste what little I had, and take care of what I had. I actually have a fur lined leather coat I bought when I was a junior in college in 1968. It’s in great shape and was made in the U.S.A. There’s not much use for the coat in Florida but I have kept it (Proverbs 7: 1-2).

I really wish my parents had written a book, a few articles, or just jotted down a few notes on an old envelope or match book cover. I would treasure those to my grave. My wife studies genealogy (her family and mine). Her interest in the subject has influenced me enough to know my ancestors were quite colorful characters and that answers a lot of questions.

Here I am now approaching that elderly point in life wishing I had that family history that was never written. We can only lament concerning that which was not written, but we can change that for our children and grandchildren.

I’m fully aware most people don’t like suggestions, but here I go anyway. Think back on your life. You have a personal history. The experiences you have had will be forgotten if you do not write them down. Your pain, your love, your thrills, your anguish, and hundreds of other experiences will never be remembered by anyone if you don’t write them down.

Some may prefer to use a recorder and to save their experiences and family history. That’s well and good if that’s the only way you’ll do it. I personally prefer a hard drive and notebook. Audio and videos can be altered but a written text is not as likely. Don’t let your history be rewritten.

One can buy a notebook at a Dollar Tree or Walmart and start writing. Start out by brain-storming and outlining the topics and then go back and elaborate in the form of articles (compositions). The stories don’t have to be grammatically perfect or formatted for national publication. We can do this. It’s not that hard and someone in your family, long after you’re dead will thank you for it.

I am glad Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote of their experiences with Jesus. Where would we be without the four gospels? I know my life would have been very different without them. Peter, Paul and the Apostle John have changed many lives over the centuries (Revelation 1: 1). Maybe you and I can change one by what we record.

Most of us will not be remembered by anyone other than close family. Our great grand-children may not even know what we looked like, but that’s not important. Our memories and experiences might possibly be a treasure to them. We have seen more changes in our lifetimes than the previous ten thousand years. We have been a part of those changes and they have been a part of us.

Is this all worthwhile? I believe it is. Don’t be that person saying, “Maybe I’ll do this next week or next year.” Find a notebook and start! If you wait, it will never happen. Today may be that “some day” you’ve been talking about.

Consider making a New Year’s Resolution to write a history of your life. Who knows? It may be a masterpiece to a descendant that’s not even born yet.