I find that as I grow older, it is not as easy to remember stuff. I used to have a mind that could easily recall batting averages for major league players, large sections of books and articles I read, and phone numbers of friends and family. I can still recall family information such as birthdays and anniversaries, but I also use helpful tools like iCal and my iPhone to have more information more easily accessible and retrievable. But someone asked me last week where my daughter went to college, and I could not remember the name of her school. It came to me hours later, and that sort of incident seems to happen with a little more frequency these days.
It’s one reason why I enjoy old TV shows like Bonanza, M*A*S*H, and Home Improvement (HI). I find that a certain episode strikes a chord with me about a period of my life and the impact it had. Often the rerun makes me nostalgic, but it also reminds me of how I was shaped by the ideas in the show. Often the memories are pleasant, but some are hard to feel bubbling up to the surface because it reminds me of a difficult season, like when I got into a fight with my wife and I slept on the couch that night…like Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor once did (HI).
Memory is a gift from God, regardless of whether it recalls success or failure, pain or hardship. Instead of being haunted by the past, God wants all of our experiences to point us to Him.
Read Deuteronomy 8:1-8.
Throughout the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, the key word used was “remember.” With the people of Israel poised on the border of the Promised Land, God commanded them to recall His faithfulness as well as their own mistakes during the past 40 years of wilderness wanderings.
“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these past forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands” (8:2).
“Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands” (8:11).
“Never forget how you provoked the Lord your God to anger in the desert” (9:7).
“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you” (15:15).
One of my favorite devotional exercises has been using Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. The December 31 reading includes Chambers saying, “God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture (a source of hope, nourishment, possibility, and growth) for the future.”
How able are you to recall past failures without being strangled by guilt? What can you do to cultivate your memory of God’s faithfulness to you? As we remember God’s faithfulness and our failures, the memory of both should encourage us to follow Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4)…never forget who He is, what He has done…and will do.
Grow devotionally. As you read Scripture, keep a list of the ways God shows His love and grace to you. Remember His past redemptive acts. To remain faithful, be sure to remember God.
Love is a verb,