Hello, lovely readers. A little something different on the blog today. Some food for thought and reflection.
It was just in August that I wrote the following words at the end of my “There is a Season for Everything” post:
“So I am doing this now. Raising my stone called Ebenezer, saying “Til now the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12, ESV). Marking this spot and time as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us in the past, and proclaiming Him to be faithful as we move forward in hope and anticipation. At a later time in life, I pray that I can look back and remember all of the monuments that I have raised as a testament to God’s faithfulness throughout my life. They will be far and wide, spread out across the globe. The current one being raised in Littleton. Next one, Aberdeen.”
The key word to me here is remember. To draw to mind once again; to think of something that has happened before. And specifically, for my purposes in this post, to remember 1) Who God is, and 2) His faithfulness to me and others.
Why is it so much easier to forget the things that we should remember, and to remember the things that we should forget?
For over a year, I have been journaling about the role that remembering plays within Scripture, and consequently, in my life as a Christian. I have not delved into some extensive study or exegetical project (at least not to date). I have simply jotted notes, observations, and verses in my journal…realizing that remembering is important. Perhaps more than we ever think it is. And what exactly do I mean?
Scripture is, in elementary terms, one large story; one giant narrative. Though there are clearly many genres of literature present within, different contributing writers that span many many years, and hoards of smaller stories captured in its pages, it is still the story of humanity and its Redeemer. It is the story of many people that forgot the faithfulness of God, and those that remembered it. Or perhaps, as is most common, those that teeter and totter between the two, as I relate to. Remember-forget-remember-forget-remember-forget…….. remember! And more than this, it is the story of the Faithful One. A God who binds himself to us in covenant, steadfast love.
So I began documenting some important details that I picked up in Scripture. Practices and rituals that helped people to remember how far God had brought them. How long he had been faithful. How constant he was, in spite of their own inconsistency, brokenness, sin. In spite of dire circumstances, feelings of utter abandonment, and times of deep darkness and hopelessness.
By the rituals and remembrance practices, the people were reminded of previous times of God’s faithfulness. And humorously, these rituals were often initiated by God himself, which only leads me to a fuller realization of our need for his perfection and omniscience.
It’s like a movie I began to watch on Netflix. The opening scene is of a young man, stricken with amnesia, waking up. He turns to his alarm clock and stuck to it is a bright green sticky note that says, “You are in New Orleans.” Next to that, a manila folder, marked with thick black Sharpie “Read this every morning,” and around him, a room of sticky notes telling him about his life, who he knows, where he needs to be that day, etc.
This is a good analogy for us. Or at least it is for me! I need to be reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness in my life. Frequently. Daily. Why? Because when I don’t, my mind and my emotions default to panic, to hopelessness, to self-reliance, and to fretting.
I have seen this time and time again in my counseling work with clients. Most often, the root of panic and anxiety is fear and self-talk that says, “It’s all going down the tubes!!” “The end is near!!!” “I won’t…I can’t…I’m not able…” and on and on and on. Catastrophic thinking patterns. And I have had the pleasure of helping these lovely people to remember. The ways that they were able to overcome, to change, to make it through situations and circumstances that were seemingly impossible at the time. Fear blinds a person and makes him/her forget that there are resources, possibilities, and hope!
Without intentional remembrances, we forget. And we forget quickly! Nathan and I are only 4 weeks into our new adventure in Aberdeen. But I will be honest, it is oftentimes easier for me to panic about logistics and daily life needs than it is to remember God’s faithfulness to us. We wouldn’t be here without Him in the first place. And if I choose to remember, my disposition and my outlook change dramatically.
My journey with this topic began with Psalm 78, specifically verses 1-7 (ESV), and a few others:
“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark saying from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the words of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
v. 11 “They forgot his works and the wonders he had shown them.”
v. 35 “They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer.”
v. 42 “They did not remember his power or the day when he redeemed them from the foe…”
So my first thoughts on this were:
- Why was the Lord instructing them to tell the coming generation of His glorious deeds?
- Verse 7 says it’s “so that they should set their hope in God and NOT FORGET [or fail to remember] the works of God, but keep his commandments.”
For the Hebrew people, forgetting led to panic, to rebellion, to trouble, to bitterness, to a mess. It is no different for us.
I got to thinking about other scriptural examples of intentional, ritual remembering. And perhaps you’ll think of others that we could add to the list…
- The jar of manna as a reminder of the provision of food in the wilderness (Exodus 16:33)
- The “stone of help” called Ebenezer raised as a monument to the victory the Lord gave Israel (1 Samuel 7:12)
- The Passover celebration to remember Israel’s deliverance out of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:14)
- The bread and the cup, given by Christ who instructed us to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19)
In addition to this, we have the oral passing down of the scriptures throughout the ages, and the written Word. We have crosses, other Christian symbols, as well as songs, poems, books, artwork, etc. All tools that help us to remember God’s faithfulness throughout time.
But remembering is not an individualistic enterprise. It is done within the larger community of believers. That is why the Hebrew people were instructed, as a community, to tell the coming generation of the works of the Lord! Had the news and remembrance of the Lord’s faithfulness been entrusted to just one individual, it would have died off with that person. It was assigned to the entire community! They were to remember both as individuals AND as a collective people.
So how do we remember as individuals, and as members of the larger Christian community?
- Personal prayer and meditation on the scriptures
- Intentionally choosing to recount memories of God’s faithfulness to you
- Journal: I am a huge proponent of journaling! Write it down and capture the Lord’s faithfulness as it happens. Then look back over the years and remember who he was for you and how he intervened. My mom has encouraged me for years to document, document, document! Lest you do, you will forget.
- Blog: Part of the reason I blog is to have a record of my journey. It’s different than my personal journaling. It’s intended to share with others and give insight into what I’m experiencing over time.
- Underline and highlight: Bibles are meant to be used, and margins are great. Write down significant dates, underline verses that are speaking to you.
- Music: Listen to songs that remind you that He has been faithful. I can still remember the worship song that ministered to me at age 12! And every so often, I need to revisit that and bring it back to the basics.
- Photos/other artwork/images: Document important places, people, events that spoke of the faithfulness of God in your life.
- Worship with people regularly: Being in the fellowship of other Christians is important! Music, sermons, teaching, prayer, liturgy, Eucharist. The community is called to bear with one another in love. When one person is rejoicing, we are called to rejoice with that person. When another person is grieving, we are called to grieve with them (Rom. 12:15). The community bears the burdens AND the breakthroughs of life together! This can’t happen if you’re isolated.
- Listen: We can get so enthralled with our own circumstances and needs. But in order to remember, we need to listen to what those around us are saying. Their testimonies, their insights, their encouragements will have a way of lifting you up when you need to remember!
- Tell it on the mountain: Just as listening is important, telling your story is also important. Tell others what you have come through, what you are experiencing, and how you are choosing to remember God’s faithfulness in all things. The upcoming generations will not know about your experience with the Faithful One if you don’t share it. Tell your family, tell your friends, tell your children.
- Connect: This should be an obvious one, but connecting is an imperative. Isolation breeds all kinds of issues. Depression, helplessness, hopelessness, fear, doubt, shame. He is the vine, and we are the branches (John 15:5). Connection is important for health and quality of life. And I’ll just mention it now… it is too tempting for my generation to view social media as a quality way of connecting. But I’ve ready too many articles and studies on the deception of such beliefs. Our favorite social media outlets can actually isolate us even more. We THINK we are connecting with others, but it is not the same as being together, in the flesh. You need to SEE people, HEAR them, SMELL them, TOUCH them. Quality interaction. Together, in person, we can remember the faithfulness of God.
When we remember, we are reminded that God’s faithfulness is not just about his ability to do something for us. It is about who he is in his very being and nature. He is good. He loves us. He is faithful.
Choose to remember, friends. I am telling myself the very same thing today.