Memories and dreams can run the gamut from sweet to horrific.  So can flashbacks, although they are often thought of in the dictionary definition as, “vivid recurrent recollections of a disturbing event.”  Sometimes even the most mundane action, sound or sight can trigger an emotional or violent reaction.  Fire fighters, law enforcement, and military personnel seem to be the most obvious victims of this syndrome, but anyone who has witnessed or has been involved in a traumatic occurrence could also be subject to flashbacks.  At times there are also hallucinations that accompany these and it seems as if all efforts to repress certain events can be outflanked by conscience and feelings of guilt. One cannot control the dreams, but can ameliorate the effects through proper understanding and good counseling.  One can learn to better cope with and even use flashbacks to handle current situations. Good authors often employ them to build a backstory and inject them in the plot to enhance character development.

As one reads through the Letters of the Apostle Paul, one can see his frequent use of flashbacks.  He must have often thought of the severe persecutions and dangers he had endured —prisons, floggings, stonings, shipwrecks, bandits, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst and the constant verbal attacks by false apostles. (2 Cor 11:23-28)  He also mentions the destruction of families of Christians he caused when he was still called Saul. (Acts 8:3) (1 Cor 15:9) One wonders if he felt a certain irony upon later being the guest of Christians like Mnason, (Acts 21:16) Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila, Rufus and several others. (Rom 16:1-15)

The Apostle Peter also surely had his flashbacks as the Lord Jesus was asking him to feed His sheep. (Jo 21:15-19)  He must have recalled his painful betrayal of his friend and Savior. (Jo 18: 25-27)  It is most probable that the rest of the Apostles and many disciples had similar flashbacks. Thomas was doubtful and unbelieving about Jesus’ resurrection. (Jo 20:24-25)  James and John and the other Apostles had once argued about who was the greatest and had been humbled by Jesus’ lesson of servanthood.  (Mk 9:33-37)

Even though no present day Christian has seen the Lord, we can still flashback to the events of His life as we remember Him during the Lord’s Supper. (1 Cor 11:23-32)  We are told to examine ourselves before partaking by meditation and prayer. (v 24)  Many flashbacks can also be sweet and uplifting.  These should help us to recall the successes as well as the failures in our journey to eternity.  

                                                                                  –Jim Bailey