As I write this, I’m in the lovely Blue Ridge Mountains, teaching at a small Pastor’s Wives intensive retreat. We’ve had so much fun together. One of the messages I gave this morning was on “The Spiritual Practice of Remembering.” Steve and I often take time to purposefully remember all that the LORD has done. It’s been so fun for me to think back on all the stories of our ministry lives together. The good and the crazy. The exhilarating moments when we’ve seen God change lives and the intense moments when we’ve seen lives fall apart. God has been there through it all. He has always been faithful!
Often, when we think of spiritual practices, we think of things like prayer, silence, Bible reading, worship, and journaling. All of those are good, but I believe that remembering is also a vital spiritual practice for the revival of our souls. We see this all throughout the scripture.
Moses told the people of Israel, “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 6:12).
After crossing the Jordan, the LORD instructed Joshua to choose twelve men to pick up twelve stones from the river bed to carry back and build an altar. The altar was to serve as a reminder of the miraculous work the LORD had done in parting the waters for the Israelites. You can read the whole story in Joshua 4:1-18.
Asaph also prioritized remembering. In Psalm 77 he wrote, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD” (Psalm 77:11).
And then, of course, Jesus at the last supper, after He broke bread as a symbol of His body and gave them the cup as a symbol of His blood, said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Communion is one of the most sacred practices of remembering.
Why did God set such a high priority on remembering?
Remembering Reminds Us of the Tangible Presence of God. When we look back on our lives and see all that God has done for us, we are reminded that God’s presence is tangible. It’s easy in the chaos of life to view the presence of God as something we know intellectually, but not necessarily experientially. When we look back and remember all the ways God has shown up for us, we are reminded that His presence really does go with us as He promised in Exodus 33:14. We are reminded that His presence is tangible.
Remembering Strengthens Our Faith. Life is hard and we are in a battle. It’s easy to become discouraged and defeated in our spiritual journeys. The enemy pummels our thinking with doubts and we can even find ourselves questioning, “Is God really good? Can I really trust Him?” When we remember how He has moved in the past, we are strengthened in our faith for today. This is why God reminded us through the prophet Isaiah, “Remember the former things, those of long ago. I am God, there is no other” (Isaiah 46:9).
Remembering Reminds Us That Our Christian Journey Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint. When difficult circumstances settle in around us, intentional remembering helps us to keep a long life view in mind. We remember that all of our Christian journey is not going to be a mountaintop experience. There will be desert experiences along the way as well. As we look back and remember intentionally, we will see clearly that God has been faithful.
Remembering Replaces the False Narratives We Might Be Believing. If there’s a lot of pain in your life right now, you might be believing the lie that it’s never going to turn around. Or, that God has left you. You might believe that God is punishing you. For the child of God, these are false narratives. God promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. He assures us that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus because God punished Jesus on the cross. Remembering helps us embrace truth and reject lies.
This week, why don’t you try remembering. Make a timeline of your life, divided into ten-year segments. In each decade, remember how God has been faithful to you. List the ways He provided for, healed, and loved you.
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