Only after I reached my car in the driveway and found that door would not open did I remember – “Jerry, you left your keys on the table!” A reminder popped up in my phone about a friend’s birthday too late to get a card in the mail. I had forgotten! Everybody experiences this. People my age (yes, I am 66!) tend to be concerned about mental sharpness, but unless a person is getting lost near their home, neglecting regular daily habits, or asking the same question repeatedly, forgetfulness is just a part of life, our busy brains temporarily losing track of some bit of information. I am thankful for the technology that keeps reminders on a phone in my pocket and I do try to put things back in the same place. Most likely, you have your own skills for remembering dates and appointments, too.
God knows that humans need reminders, that we tend to get so wrapped up in our day to day work and responsibilities, or distracted by our pleasures, that He fades from our consciousness. This did not just happen with the 21st century! The ancient people who knew Him and His goodness failed to keep Him first in their affections. Psalm 106 starts this way: “Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 106:1, NIV) Even if we quickly add our “amen” the truth is that we tend to forget to praise Him, to thank Him.
The Psalm calls to mind the people of the Exodus for whom God provided daily food and protection. They saw Him do amazing and miraculous things. “He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them. The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. Then they believed his promises and sang his praise.” (Psalm 106:10-12, NIV) When they got settled in the Promised Land it happened- “Yet how quickly they forgot what he had done! They wouldn’t wait for his counsel!” (Psalm 106:13, NLT) “They traded their glorious God for a statue of a grass-eating bull. They forgot God, their savior, who had done such great things in Egypt—” (Psalm 106:20-21, NLT)
Godknows that the temptations of the moment can eclipse the grace we have known in the past. He knows that we are easily overwhelmed by today’s trials so that His faithfulness yesterday is forgotten! When we forget, we become foolish. In a moment of panic the people of Israel made an idol of an Egyptian god, just weeks after being led through the Red Sea. Before we condemn them, let’s not set aside our own lapses of faith and gratitude.
In sickness, have we accused God of letting us down?
When disappointed in life, when He seems silent, have we sought comfort in shopping, or mindless pleasure, or even serious sin?
When the world feels like it is spinning out of control, have we left prayer behind choosing frantic efforts to shape life in a way we desire?
We do, friend. It happens to us just as it happened to those ancient Israelis. That is why we need memorials. We need to have our memory renewed. Christian practice and worship is built around recalling God’s grace.
- At the Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus told those men to keep sharing the Bread and the Cup. He said “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25, NLT)
- A day of rest and worship is included in the week, a regular reminder of our identity, the People of the Lord. The Jews celebrated the Sabbath. Christians celebrate the Lord’s Day. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25, NIV) By stepping away from the tasks of the week to worship, we keep faith fresh.
Being human, we are at risk of forgetting what God has done, the majestic realization of His love hidden in the grind of business. Jesus, the parable of the seeds, warned that “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19, NIV)
God’s faithfulness in the past is a foundation for our faith.
When we remember, we trust.
When we trust, we gain courage and hope.
In that hope, we move forward.
Let’s be clear that remembering God’s goodness and celebrating His grace is not the same as living in nostalgia, attempting to recreate the imagined glories of yesteryear! We remember, and with strengthened faith, we confidently move ahead into each new day.
In Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament, we find His people asking themselves a key question – “What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.” In their forgetfulness, they lost their grip on the truth, on reality!
Some of the faithful called for a testimony service! “Those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.” Their memory and praise triggered this response in Heaven. “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” (Malachi 3:14-18, NLT)
Are you building memorials? Are you remembering to share the goodness of the Lord?
Start by re-establishing the habit of regular worship, of sharing worshipfully at the Communion table.
Read good biographies of faithful Christians. Talk about what the Lord has done. Faith will grow!
Here is a word from the Word: “For this is what the Lord himself said, and I pass it on to you just as I received it. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and you, sealed by the shedding of my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, NLT)
Father, forgive me when I forget
That You are good and faithful.
Help me not to turn from Your way,
Creating my own gods, acting as a fool.
Make me wise, stir up my memories
As I come to Your table,
When we gather together for worship.
Help me to speak of Your acts,
To listen to the testimony about
Spirit of the Living God,
may my faith be fresh,
My heart full of joy in what You have done.
And let my life align with Your will today.
In the Name of Jesus, I pray.