The end of the year is a common time for remembering & reflecting. We are the only creature that God created with the ability to remember; many animals can learn behaviors and remember tricks that earn them treats, but they don’t have memories about birthdays, anniversaries, families, or grocery lists. Memory lets us celebrate special days, helps us get to a friend’s house, allows us to enjoy favorite foods over & over. In God’s wisdom, He gave us remembering as part of His image; this lets us give context to events and places so we can process circumstances and add depth to our perceptions. Building memories with others builds relationships and binds us together like almost nothing else. Remembering shared experiences is the foundation for class reunions, anniversaries, and family feasts & celebrations. What blessings come from forming memories! We see throughout scripture that God remembers. Further, He asks us to be intentional about remembering - look at just a few examples:
Psalm 78 is a litany of God’s work on behalf of Israel, and it begins with an exhortation to remember. Verses 1-8: “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....We will not hide them from our 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...and...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 works of God, but keep his commandments...”
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 - “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
In other words, talk about God and his law so much that there is no way your children could forget them.
Our communion service is all about remembering what Christ did, as Luke 22:19 tells us: “And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ ” Christ instituted His Supper around helping us remember His death for us.
In fact, the word “remember” is in the Bible around 230 times! Its fateful opposite, “forget” is also featured in scripture, about 60 times.
Deuteronomy 8: 11-20 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may confirm his covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.“ Forgetting would lead to disobedience.
Forgetting also leads to discontent, the opposite of thankfulness. Genuine praise arises when we think outside our circumstances, and remember what God has done in the past for you and others of His People. Remembering His Faithfulness helps you see past troubling events and helps anchor you in His Love and Peace. He tells us this over & over. Isaiah 26:3-”You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed (fixed, intentionally put) on YOU.” Does this happen ? No, our minds naturally want to think only short-term thoughts; that is the path of least resistance in our brains. Yet God calls us to much more. James 1 tells us to “...be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” He is calling us to remember so we can act!!! If we hear the word and then walk away, without contemplating and meditating (forms of recalling/remembering), James says we are like someone who looks in a mirror and then forgets what he looks like. Which no one does, right??
We are called to be a people of memory, to intentionally remember all God has done for His People throughout history. His book is given to us partly to help us remember, to have a concrete way of passing on to the coming generations those things He wants to transmit through the ages. He invites us to participate in His Image by remembering and sharing those memories, creating relationships with others who also remember.
So purpose to use this time of year for reflection and remembrance; share memories with your children and your friends about times God has been faithful and loving, and remember He does not vary or shift like the shadows.