The Discipline of Remembering

I took a little walk down memory lane and read through some of my journals from college. On one hand I feel like an entirely different person than I was 10 years ago. I was encouraged to see that the years had provided at least a tiny bit of wisdom. But as I read through the pages I was also struck by how far I haven’t come. Some of the things I wrestled with and struggled to understand about God and His will for my life then are still things I wrestle with today. In some ways I feel like the line from a Bebo Norman song: No farther forward, just farther along.

With this in mind I was reading through Deuteronomy last week. It struck me that the Lord asked the Israelites to remember; to remember His laws and commandments, and to remember how He had rescued them and led them. The interesting thing to note is the timing of all this. God’s people had been wandering in the desert for the last 40 years, and now they’re about to enter the land God had promised them. The end is in sight, and their prayers are about to be answered.  

God did not want them to forget all Je had done for them.  He tells them:

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm (5:15, ESV).

If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm (7:17-19).

And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not (8:2).”

There’s power in remembering. It keeps our doubts at bay when we focus on what the Lord has already done for us and what He will continue to do for us. And sometimes our faith is strengthened in the waiting because it forces us to remember. When they faced opposition, the Israelites could remember how God delivered them from Pharaoh. When their crops were threatened, they could remember the manna that came every day.

I like the idea of disciplining myself to remember. To look back and see how the Lord has directed every single step I’ve taken and ordained every one of my days according to His perfect will.

What helps you remember?