As I sit and ponder the various thoughts that flood my mind, I wonder how many of us are good at remembering things. Do you remember the good times? How about the bad times? Do you remember your wedding day or the day you met your spouse? Did you just remember the time your son or daughter scored that goal or hit that home run? What is it that you remembered? How many years have passed since that memory? Did Facebook give you a reminder of a memory triggering an emotional reaction?
No matter how you seem to remember things, I believe our memories are a gift from God. They are the tool in which He uses to remind us of His goodness, His kindness and His love for us. It also reminds us of His sovereignty, His power and His sacrifice. Our memories can remind us of where we came from, what molded us into who we are today. However, if our memories go out of control, they can haunt us, trap us and even enslave us, paralyzing us into action and causing us pain and suffering.
God created memories. Throughout Scripture, we read of God telling his people to remember through feasts, festivals and sacrifices. Time and time again, we read about “Remember the Sabbath” in Exodus 20 and “Remember Lot’s wife”, in Luke 17. Time and time again, we are to remember who God is and what He has done, remember where we came from and remember our purpose and calling in this life.
That is why we place so much emphasis on remembering. The pictures we hang on our walls remind us of times of joy. Videos remind us of times past and inflict various emotions. We mourn for those who suffer from memory loss. We feel for those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. At funerals we remember the good times with our past loved ones. At birthday celebrations we remember the joy of childbirth. We go out of way to ensure that we never forget.
In my last post, I mentioned that Colossians is a book of remembrance. Contained within its pages are calls to remember where we came from, Who saved us, what our calling is and who is within our family. During my study, I was reminded of another piece of Scripture that is chock full of memories, Exodus 20.
Most of us know that Exodus 20 contains the 10 Commandments. The do’s and don’ts of Jew and Christian alike. However, beyond the do’s and don’ts that we have all been taught, is the complexity of explaining a purpose in remembrance. These do not simply bark orders to follow, but a calling to remember one thing, “Remember Who.”
Exodus 20 starts off like this…
“Then God spoke all these words, saying,”
First, God wants us to remember, it is He Who is speaking. He is the one and only true God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth that is talking with them. He is the “I AM” who is telling them about these commands. It is not Moses or Aaron. He is God.
In verse 2 we then read:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
Second, we are to remember Who saved us. He is the Lord your God, not the Lord their God. God is our God. He is our Creator. He is our Savior. He is and always will be the “Lord your God”. So why is this so important?
He reminds Israel what He did for them, “…who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” In Israel’s minds, it was Moses who brought them out of Egypt. They grimaced and groaned to Moses and Aaron about how good they had it in Egypt. However, what they forgot about was the harsh slavery, the horrific oppression they were under and their crying out to God for freedom. They remembered the food but forgot Who provided for them.
Isn’t that just like us? Don’t we remember the wrong things? We all have a tendency to remember the circumstance rather than the Creator. We remember what we think is good and forget the good that God has done for us. We forget that it was God who saved us from our slavery to sin. We forget that it was God who sent His Son to die for us, even though we didn’t deserve it. We forget that God promised us that Christ will return and save us from this dying and sinful world. Simply put, we don’t remember the right things. When our memories focus on things, other than God Himself, we fall into sin. We fall into a thought process of pride and selfishness which causes us to reject God and His purpose for us.
Lastly, God’s expectation of this reality is our reaction to remembering Who He is. Let me clarify this a bit. Here is how I like to read the rest of this passage….
Vs 3 – As you remember Who saved you, you shall not have any other gods before Me.
Vs 4 – As you remember that I saved you from slavery, you shall not make for yourself any likeness of anything that will replace Me.
Vs 7 – As you remember that I protected you from the plagues of Egypt, you shall not take My name in vain.
Vs 8 – As you remember that I rested on the 7th day, so shall you.
Vs 12 – As you remember that I am your Father, honor your father and mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land that I am giving to you.
Vs 13 – As you remember that I created you, therefore, do not murder.
Vs 14 – As you remember that I allowed Israel to increase in Egypt, you shall not commit adultery.
Vs 15 – As you remember that I provided for you in Egypt, you shall not steal.
Vs 16 – As you remember that Moses was a witness to your cry in Egypt and I heard you and freed you, you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Vs 17 – As you remember that I give you what you need and desire, you shall not covet any of your neighbor’s belongings or wife.
We have a purpose in remembering. Our ability to remember should focus us on the purpose that God has for us. In all circumstances we need to remember Who freed us from the bondage of sin, who freed us from the hand of slavery and in remembering this, our actions should match our memories.
If our memories lead us to strife, anguish and anxiety, then our memories do not have the right focus. Instead of saying, “Oh I remember the pain…”, say, “I remember how God sustained me through the pain….” If our focus is on remembering the circumstance then our reaction is strife, anger and anxiety. If our focus is on remembering who God is and what He has done for us, then our reaction will be to worship and glorify Him.
There is a purpose in our remembering. Remembering should lead us to worship. Remembering should lead us to a desire to learn more about Him. Remembering should bring us to the point where we bow down, cry out to Him and ask Him what His purposes for our lives are. Remembering is our way of refocusing on the One who saved us and freed us from the bondage of sin.
How are you remembering the Lord today? What did He do to sustain you, lead you or save you from your past? If you can’t think of a time where God saved you, then re-evaluate your life and ask God to show Himself to you. He has freed you through Jesus Christ. You are free because He made you free.
May God remind you of how He is working in your life and share that with someone who may be struggling. God bless and encourage someone today.