Forgetfulness of the works of God, his faithfulness and deliverance, is the beginning of the end. When we forget his works, we will lose our reason to worship and become prone to fear, greed, and idolatry.
But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel… they exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.
– Psalm 106:13 & 20
There is something powerful about memory. We spend half our lives engaging with memories, telling stories, recounting experiences or listening to others share their own. Memories connect us to our past, our childhood… and in some kind of way, our memories actually connect us to our future. We learn from past mistakes and make decisions to suit. We study history in order to build a better future. In fact, the past has a great deal of influence on our future – which is why we say, learn from the past or repeat it’s mistakes.
God is pretty keen on his people remembering things to. All throughout the scriptures you find God, again and again, reminding his people that he is the one who brought them out of Egypt, out of slavery, and into the promised land. The Psalms are full of the stories of old, the things God had done. When Israel crossed the Jordan river with Joshua, God commanded they pick up 12 stones from the river and stack them up as a memorial, so that whenever they would come past with their children they would be reminded of God’s incredible faithfulness and power, and pass on the stories to their kids. But Psalm 106 is a great and powerful warning regarding what happens when people lose sight of just what God has done.
A lot of people are praying into their future; asking for husbands, believing for resources, wanting to buy a house, asking for blessing on this and blessing on that – so much focus on wanting things now and in the future to be fixed, improved, enhanced, made easy, delivered and secured.
Perhaps some of us need a better prayer focus on the past, not the future.
Why is remembering so important?
Remembering the past gives you perspective on the present and a better mindset for the future. When you remember that God spared no expense when he sent his Son to the cross, you will be reminded of His love, his power and his relentless drive to capture your heart and pay your ransom. So why worry that he would not now take care of you? Of course he will, just recall what he has done in order to gain confidence in what he will do. Remember his power and faithfulness, remember his unchanging nature, his inexhaustible strength and his unrelenting compassion. Remember his fierce love and his then also remember his jealous pursuit of your soul. Remember his works; Creation, Freedom from Egypt, the plagues, the deliverance, Exodus, provision, clouds of fire, victories, remember Sampson and Gideon, David and Samuel, remember Noah and Caleb, Joshua and Jacob, remember water into wine, remember walking on water, remember the feeding of the 5000 and the healing of the lepers. Remember raising the dead, remember Lazarus, remember the last supper, remember the cross. Think and recall all that he has done and allow the memory of his faithfulness and power to infuse faith and holiness into your future.
Total recall or total fall?
At the start of the book of Judges, shortly after the death of Joshua we read something very sad:
“And there arose another generation after them who did not know the or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them…” – Judges 2:10-14
They did not know the Lord or what he had done – they had no memory of his works, they were unable to recall the great love he demonstrated and the incredible power he revelaed as he led Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. This is what happens when we forget. Whatever we fail to remember, we will also fail to pass on. What we fail to pass on, the next generation has no frame of reference to possible recall – for they never knew. Understandably, they forsake the Lord out of their own ignorance which, had their Fathers been diligent, could have been easily avoided. Forgetting the works of the Lord is detrimental for ones soul; it;s catastrophic for the next generation.
Tell your story
Live your life in the witness stand – tell your story, this does two things. (1) It is a reminder to you, each time you tell it, of all the amazing things God has done in your life, starting with the cross. (2) It provides something for other people to remember if they have no memory of their own to draw from, and at a time of need, they might just recall your story and cry out to God for themselves.
I love the movie ‘V for Vendetta’, it’s highly poetic and incredibly creative and I love that it captures the heart of story telling, where ideas and memories become more powerful than individual people or personalities. In the movie the main character V says this incredible thing,
You can kill a person, but you can never kill an idea
Ideas, like memories and stories, are the very power to shift a generation one way or another – let’s fill ourselves and the next generation with memories of God and ideas of His Kingdom. May your memories of Christ, of God the Father and his extravagant love, that is made ever real through the power of the Holy Spirit, be strong in you; strong in your mind, strong in your heart and strong on your lips – giving you every reason to have hope for the future, a positive confession on your lips and a life of compassion, grace and mercy flowing out of everything you do.
The cross and the scepter
Our Savior and King doth plot
I see no reason
Why his blood for our treason
Should ever be forgot