I have a miserable memory. After taking an exam in school, the generalities of the information would sound vaguely familiar, but the specifics would be mostly gone soon after the pencil dust had settled. Ironically, I’ve always been intimately connected to people with exquisite memories. Until the day she died at 82, my mom had a flawless memory. My husband has a photographic memory. When he preaches, he references a passage from Scripture and quotes it without looking at notes. I remember feeling such shame that my ability to remember God’s Word was so subpar. If I really loved Jesus, wouldn’t I have already memorized more of it?
Early in our marriage, I asked him for his Scripture memorization technique. Surely there was a secret that I didn’t know that would make all the difference. He looked at me in a puzzled way and said, “What do you mean?” I said, “How do you memorize the passages that you quote during your sermons?” “Well, I read them as I study a couple of times.” What in the world? I realized his ability to memorize was not attributed to his devotion to the Lord any more than my inability was due to a lack of devotion. It was an impressive genetic anomaly that I was not given by a Sovereign God.
It was one of the first moments I remember the Lord clearly communicating to me that if I wanted to remember, I was going to have to repeatedly go back to His Word over and over. This area of weakness would be a pathway to dependence on Him. Anytime I recall something, there is no question that it is His Spirit that pulled it up out of the recesses of my mind onto the tip of my tongue. I see His strength in my weakness every time this happens. Remembering is not reflex for me. It is a choice.
Remembering is also something God feels strongly about. The word “remember” shows up in Scripture hundreds of times. When the children of Israel got into trouble, it could be traced back to a failure to remember….to remember God, to remember how He acted in the past, and to remember what he called them to do and not do.
Look at just a few examples of God’s passion for remembering:
- Exodus 13:3 – Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the LORD brought you out from this place.
- Exodus 20:8 – “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- 1 Chronicles 16:15 – Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations.
- Psalm 78:35 – They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer.
- Luke 24:6 – He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee.
- Ephesians 2:12 – Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
The uncertain times in which we find ourselves call for Remembering. This is the exact atmosphere in Scripture when God’s people would fret and forget. Forgetting led to all manner of sorrow because they would look to other things to either minimize their fear or to replace God with a god they could see and touch. If we’re not careful, we could be accused of doing the same thing. I want to say to you what God says all through Scripture. Remember!
- Remember who God is.
Remember His character. God’s character is so multi-faceted that it requires dozens and dozens of descriptions and names to come close to capturing His glory. His character is unchanging so when we lash ourselves to His character, we are in close proximity to a fixed reality. The book of Psalms is a great place to start. His name shows up over and over again. Slowly read this book and underline or write down every name or description of God. Say His name out loud. Remember who God is.
- Remember how God has acted in the past.
We are being bombarded with dire, conflicting, and ever-changing editorials guised as news on a minute to minute basis. The temptation to fret is real. It’s a ripe opportunity to ponder how God has acted in the past. How did He come through for people in the Bible? How has He come through for you, for your family, for people you know? At the dinner table, in the car, on walks, talk about how God has cared for you, how he saved you, how the God who parted the Red Sea came through for you. Your children need to hear that this time in history is important but it is not everything. It will pass. One of the ways we survive it is by remembering God’s mighty, miraculous actions on behalf of His people all throughout history. It reminds us that because He is unchanging, His ways are consistent. Remember how God has acted in the past.
- Remember what God has called you to do and not do.
It is easy to reward ourselves for what we are having to go through during this pandemic and racial tension. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to excuse a sin when it is in response to suffering or being sinned against. So it is important to remember what God has called you to do and not do. God’s general commands to His people do not change. We are still called to love our enemies. We are still called to pray, to go into all the world, to know and teach God’s Word, to not gossip, to have sex only with the person to whom we are married, to be slow to anger, quick to listen, to forgive, to be honest, to worship God alone. There is not a parenthesis around this time in history that gives us a pass on obedience. There is great peace in simply taking God at His Word and doing what He said. Remember what God has called you to do and not do.
God is good, He can do all things, and none of His purposes can be thwarted. Maybe today is a day you needed to be reminded of that. The same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead is in those who follow Jesus. Let’s call on that power and rise up to Remember.
– Marcie McClendon, Women’s Pastor