When I was in high school, I became very interested in researching how I could improve my health. I was asking a lot of my body with physically demanding extra-curricular activities, so I wanted to learn how to make the best choices to optimize my physical performance. Call it intuition, but I guessed fast food, sodas, and candy bars were probably not the best fuel for me. So, I subscribed to countless health and fitness magazines and read them cover-to-cover. I saturated myself in their teachings.
After about six months of taking in information and making changes to my habits to reflect a healthier lifestyle, I finally came to this conclusion: Magazine after magazine, book after book, all the information said basically the same thing. So, I decided to stop reading the magazines because I’d read it all before – no need to keep reading the same information over and over.
And guess what happened? My healthy eating habits started to slowly give way to more “treats” than good-for-me foods. I became less disciplined in my eating and exercise. As I noticed my back-sliding ways, I started to peruse the healthy-living magazines and books again to remind myself of the truth. Honestly, as a teen it was a profound moment for me. I realized I needed to marinate in truth – even truth I already knew – because as soon as I thought I had it all down and could put the healthy resources away, I realized the only thing I had down was my guard.
I learned that I don’t naturally gravitate toward discipline; I naturally gravitate toward what tastes (or feels) good at the moment. It is for that reason that I must saturate myself in truth. It’s not enough for me to read information that is of utmost importance. I must go back to the well again and again to re-remember.
The lesson I learned with the healthy lifestyle magazines extended to the Bible. Reading a passage in the Bible was never meant to be a one-and-done encounter. I couldn’t just read the information once and check it off my list for the rest of my life. I had to keep going back to His character, His promises, and the only Truth of this world.
The word “remember” occurs in the Bible 230 times (give or take a few depending on translation). I am currently making my way through the Old Testament, and the common theme, no matter the book or topic, is “remember what the Lord has done”.
Remembering isn’t passive, it is an action that brings with it the power of the Trinity – of what was, what is, and is to come. Remembering what He has done gives us confidence in Whom we’re dealing with, lest we make God in our own image. It’s imperative to continue reading – whether you grew up doing Bible drills and never missed a Sunday School lesson or are new to God’s Word.
For me, one of the most poignant passages in the whole Bible is found in Exodus. Actually, the whole book of Exodus is one to read and re-read as it not only reveals so much about God’s character, but also our tendencies as humans.
In Exodus, God freed the Israelites from being slaves in Egypt; He parted the Red Sea for them to flee to safety; He traveled with them in the wilderness as comforting cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The Israelites complained about bitter water; the Lord made it sweet. They complained about hunger; God rained down bread from Heaven. They witnessed miracle after miracle, the power and love of God, and yet, at each hurdle they thought God would surely not come through.
After they’d witnessed 40 years of God’s love, provision, and protection, Moses told the Israelites, “Be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deuteronomy 4:9). Moses gave several such reminders to the Israelites – you’d think all they’d witnessed would remain top-of-mind. But God understood that even after all the miracles, Israel would forget about Him.
The Old Testament follows a pattern of God’s people following Him, forgetting Him, seeking new little “g” gods, and going their own way, repenting and promising to never forsake God again – only to start the process all over again. I’m always tempted to think I would have been a faithful Israelite with only gratitude for God, but then I remember what happens when I don’t saturate myself in daily remembering what God has done in my own life and I see how much like the Israelites I really am.
My favorite author and podcaster, John Eldredge, recently urged his podcast listeners to recall what they already know about God as they make their way through this fallen world. He said, “You have to start with the bedrock of: You have been ransomed; you have been rescued; you are deeply loved. You are chosen, seen, sought after, pursued. Christ has already come for you. He’s died for you, resurrected, ascended for you.” What Eldredge asked his listeners to do is remember and re-remember the truth of Who Jesus is and what He’s already done. A truth that doesn’t swerve, curve, or disappear with ever-changing circumstances (because it’s… Truth).
God has already settled that we are loved and He is good. God settled it on the cross. When we remember that first, we can move on to whatever else this fallen world throws at us.
Remembering Our Future
Remembering creation and what Christ has done and is doing is necessary, but not enough. No, there is more to the story.
As Christians, we also have the glory of remembering our future: A new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1). No more tears, death, mourning, or pain (Revelation 21:4). Jeweled cities, just because… beauty (Revelation 21:18-21). No need for the sun or the moon because the glory of God will provide light (Revelation 21:23). No need for locks, no dark of night, nothing impure, nothing shameful, or deceitful (Revelation 21:27). The river of the water of life flowing from God’s throne (Revelation 22:1). And the Tree of Life (that Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden where we were banned from eating from it after sin entered the Garden) (Revelation 22:2; Genesis 2:9, Genesis 3:22).
I can hardly take in the awe of Revelation 21 and 22, remembering the future we will have face-to-face with Jesus.
Every hymn sung and every sermon preached is in remembrance of Who God is and what He’s done for us. Every testimony shared reminds us of who we were before Christ. Everything we say or do as Christians is to be from a place of remembering. Everything. All of it. We are the re-remembering people.
Dear Lord, thank You for Your Word. Your word is truth and written so that we may remember You are the creator of all. You sent Your Son to ransom Your people and He’s coming again. We remember Your sacrifice and we remember our future with You. Lord, we love You. Maranatha! Amen.