How Good Is Your Memory?

My memory isn’t great. This is something my wife and I laugh about often. I'll look at my wife blankly when she asks me something as mundane as our neighbor's name down the street, shrug, and say, "No clue." Then 20 minutes later, while I'm fixing supper, I'll shout, "Rob! His name is Rob!!" Again, we can laugh this off. But behind it, there is a slight tension. Memories are precious. Most of us have encountered someone who has had dementia or Alzheimer's. It's such a brutal disease because it robs the beauty of shared memories.

Remembering. What a powerful concept and a uniquely human one.

Have you ever thought of remembrance as a spiritual discipline? We think of spiritual disciplines, and we think of Bible reading, prayer, worship, service, and so on. But I could argue that remembering is a pretty crucial spiritual habit. 

Time after time again, we see people in the Bible remembering how God was faithful to them. We see this in times of trouble and in times of victory. We see remembrance in times of the unknown.

King Saul saw Goliath, and he said, "Nope. No way." David, the shepherd boy, saw the giant and said, “Bring him on.” Why the difference in responses? Because David remembered: “’[36] Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.’ [37] And David said, ‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine’” (1 Samuel 17:31–36).

God commands remembrance. When Joshua leads the Israelites across the Jordan into the Promised Land, the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness over, he tells the people to grab stones from the Jordan and stack them up on the other side of the river. Why? We see the reason in Joshua 4:6–7: [6] … When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ [7] then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

Maybe the most profound occurrence of God commanding His people to remember is Jesus' words to the disciples at the Last Supper. In an incredibly intimate moment, Jesus, knowing He was heading to the cross, looked at His closest friends and essentially said, "When you eat this meal again, remember this moment and the moments that are coming. Don’t forget.”

If you are a Christian reading this, you have a track record of God’s intersection with your life. You have times in your life, some long ago, some relatively recent, where God has intervened. You have seen God in the tough times. You have encountered Him in the victories. And one of the most important things we can do as Christ-followers is to remember those times.

We draw strength for our challenging times by remembering how God has been faithful to us in the past.

Let me challenge you to embrace the spiritual discipline of remembrance. This week, make it a point to stop and reflect on specific times when God showed up. Remember these times. Tell your wife or kids about them. Remember how you felt. And simply thank God for it. Express your gratitude to a Father who is so livingly active in the lives of His children.