The Spiritual Discipline of Remembrance
"Hallelujah! You who serve God, praise God! Just to speak his name is praise! Just to remember God is a blessing— now and tomorrow and always. From east to west, from dawn to dusk, keep lifting all your praises to God!" Psalm 113:1-3 MSG
"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.'” Luke 22:19 ESV
I like to have things on my calendar to look forward to, and I'm quick to move from one thing to the next. My main focus is on the "next thing" because I always assume what comes next will be better than what was. If you're anything like me, you know that life is fast-paced and moving quickly feels normal.
Even if you just think about recent conversations with people, especially as January comes to a close, what were people asking you about?
Personally, people ask me about what's next.
What are your goals for next year? What project are you working on next? What trips do you have planned for the future?
I love getting wrapped up in my dreams and visions for the future and I think God loves dreaming with us about our futures too. There is a time and a place for that.
But we also see a really strong emphasis on remembrance in scripture.
Remembering takes discipline.
I think most of us are naturally better at forgetting than we are at remembering. If you don't believe me, just think about the last time you doubted God was present and active in a situation in your life.
At that time were you focused on the uncertainty of the future, or were you focused on remembering how God has faithfully walked with you before?
Most of us forget naturally. We forget how God has moved, how He has shown us grace, and how He has cared for us in the past.
Honestly, I think the enemy wants us to be forgetful, distracted people who are focused on the next thing so much that we might not even see what God is doing right now, or remember what He just did for us.
Jesus even equipped and prepared us for this when He taught His disciples to remember.
He said, "do this in remembrance of me," when He gave them a tangible way of remembering His sacrifice for them (and us) by taking communion.
I think Jesus knew we would be quick to forget, not just what He did for us, but how that impacts who we are.
If the enemy can get us to forget our identities, then we don't function out of a place of confidence in God always being the same.
Instead we function in an identity that is distracted and muddled by what is currently happening to us or in our world, or focused on the uncertain future.
We are also told that "just to remember God is a blessing."
Have you ever spent time with God and been reminded of something He has done for you before? Even just reflecting on the gift of salvation is a blessing.
So how can we become disciplined in remembering, and allow God to shift our eyes back to Him?
I think we can adopt Jesus' example into our everyday lives and take something tangible or do something as an act of remembrance.
A lot of us already do this without even realizing it. When we celebrate anniversaries or birthdays, we often take time to remember. We look back on the last year of our business or marriage or church, and we remember.
It's easy to look forward to what is next and get excited about the future, and I think that's a good thing. But when our focus is always on the future and we don't take time to be disciplined about remembering, we allow space for doubt and fear to speak into our lives.
When God answered a prayer for me that was a true miracle, a friend of mine gifted me a little clay bowl that says, "miracle" on it. I keep it on my desk and every time I see it I remember. I remember that prayer God answered, I remember how loving and kind He is, and I remember who He is.
Then, when I start to look forward, I'm more confident in who He is and in who I am, because I remember.
Today, I want to challenge you to take some time to remember.
-Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of an experience you have had with God. Write about it.
-Make a list of big moments in your life that cause you to remember who God is.
-Do you think of remembrance as a discipline? Why?
What is a way you can remind yourself of who God is? Maybe it is writing out something and putting it somewhere you'll see it, or maybe it's getting a tangible reminder of something God has done for you. It might be an object or a photo that reminds you of God's heart toward you.
Lord, thank you for being so willing to remind us of who you are, of what you have done for us, and of how you have changed us. Help us to focus on remembering you this week and living out of that place of remembrance. Renew our minds so that we can be disciplined in remembering you. Amen.
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