When Bad Memories Are Good

By Mark Atteberry

Every team and every player has a bad day now and then. No matter how good you are, sooner or later you’re going to get schooled by an opponent. When it happens, conventional wisdom says you should just forget about it and move on. But not everyone agrees.

Enter Pat Summitt.

From 1974 to 2012, Summitt coached the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team to 1,098 wins, 16 SEC titles, and 8 NCAA Championships. If anybody knows what it takes to win, she does. (Summitt, who has Alzheimer’s disease, now serves as head coach emeritus.)

In 1988, her team was clobbered 97-78 by the Lady Longhorns from the University of Texas, one of the most lopsided losses in her coaching career. She didn’t just call it “one of those nights” and tell her players to forget it and move on. Instead, she had the score painted in huge orange letters on the training room wall. She put the score on T-shirts that she required her players to wear during practice. Coach Summitt was determined that her team would remember that awful night and find motivation in it.

Some terrible moments need to be forgotten. But make no mistake: some need to be remembered.

When we meet around the Lord’s table, it’s to remember the most terrible moment in history. Man has done some awful things, but nothing that can compare with his murder of the Son of God. The clank of hammer on spike as Jesus’ hands and feet were nailed to the cross is truly the sound of mankind hitting rock bottom.

Honestly, it might be easier just to put it out of our minds. In a violent world, we could surely do with fewer images of blood and suffering. But some terrible moments need to be remembered and the crucifixion surely belongs at the top of the list.

It’s the crucifixion that shows us the hopeless state of man.

It’s the crucifixion that shows us the infinite love of God.

And it’s the crucifixion that shows us what real obedience looks like.

As painful as it is to think about our Lord being killed, we need to do it often, for it is central to our faith and our future. Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

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Mark Atteberry is senior minister with Poinciana Christian Church, Kissimmee, Florida.

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