I have been thinking about the line “lest we forget” since Remembrance Day. In our country we take time to remember the sacrifice of those who serve and have served in our military. I am not going to touch on the holiday but rather the act of remembrance. I believe it is important to take time to remember what has happened and give honor where honor is due. It is so easy to forget what has happened in our own past, in the past of the church, and before Jesus came. As a year has recently passed us by, this is a good time to look back.
Since leaving the church I grew up in, I have had the opportunity to be part of many other churches. I have been surprised how little much of the Protestant Church follows the church calendar. In using terms like epiphany, lent and pentecost, I often get blank faces in response. I love the way more liturgical churches remember the history of what God has done. I believe taking time to celebrate the movement of God throughout history gives us a fuller picture of who God is and what he is doing. These moments in time are significant and teach us so much.
In remembering the work of God, I see five important areas for us to take note of: God at work with the nation of Israel, the life of Jesus on earth, the history of the church (this would include Acts and Pentecost), what God has done in our community (local church, city, family) and our own personal journey with God. These all have bearance on our lives today.
It is so easy to forget who our trust should be in. It is so easy to forget the provision of God, the love of God, the protection of God. It is easy to forget about the waves of revival across the globe and lose hope for our city. It is easy to forget about the centrality of the cross without Good Friday. It is easy to forget how much we need the Holy Spirit without Pentecost. It is easy to forget about that first time we came to know God as father, as the one that heals, the one that brings joy, love, peace, hope….without remembering those times he has done just that in our lives.
My Papa, when our family is gathered together, always makes room for sharing from our personal stories. He leads us and shares from the past year what God has taught him, shown him, done in him, and invites the rest of us to share likewise. I am so thankful he has modeled this.
Remembering what has happened allows us to grow beyond the experiences of the past. Over and over God says things like, “remember the way I brought you out of Egypt” or “you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness” or “remember the former things of old for I am God” or Jesus telling his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me” as he passes the bread and wine.
“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.” Psalm 143:5
Solomon reflects on the newness of experiences by saying, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Each “new” experience is not so new when we live life with the memory of the past. The knowledge of God’s faithfulness in our life and the lives of others helps us be less frantic as we face life. Remembering can help us act in the way God has taught us to. We can surrender as we have before. We can build upon the lessons learned instead of relearning everything over and over again. A mature believer has a long and active memory of God at work. They don’t get thrown by difficult situations but stand firm on the conviction of who God is and who they are. They remember how faithful God has been and trust him in the moment. They dwell in the presence of God, and yield to the Holy Spirit.
Seven years ago, I spent time interning at a church in Fresno California (Mountain View Community Church). This church practices journaling through scripture. They use a format of engaging through scripture they call SHAPE. It stands for Scripture Hear Apply Pray Exalt. They journal a message from God in the HEAR section and respond by journaling their PRAYER. This is a daily practice. It is an incredible way to chronicle what God is doing in your life so that you can look back and remember.
Almost two years ago, I started to write blogs just for myself and saved them. They were a way of chronicling seasons of my life as God was revealing new things to me. This is where I started to get the idea to write a blog.
Both of these things have been reminders for me as I look back. It is incredible how I am able to face with confidence what is before me as I am reminded of who God has shown himself to be in the past. Testimony fills us with confidence. As we remember, we grow in confidence and wisdom. By looking back we can better take the next step.
Many people make New Year’s resolutions, things to drop or pick up for the new year. There is nothing wrong with this practice, in fact, it is good to take time to think about where you need to grow or improve. But, I would also recommend taking time to chronicle the year that was 2018.
How has God made himself known to you? What are key moments or memories from the past year? What are you thankful for from the past year and why? Are you still in the same season or is it time for something new? Take some time with these questions. God is always good in each season he leads us in, but in order to grow, we need to learn the lessons the seasons teach us.