Tag Archives: Remember

Walking Backwards Into the Future

Remember those earlier days…
…So do not throw away your confidence.
Hebrews 10:32,35a (NIV)

Just yesterday, in a Facebook post, I was reminded of my college days and my dear group of friends from Judson Theatre. It’s funny how one thought leads to another. I went to bed thinking about my friends and my college days. Perhaps that’s why this morning I was reminded in my  quiet time of a word picture one of my profs shared in a chapel service. It’s a word picture I’ve never truly forgotten, though I have to dust it off once in a while on a day like today.

Picture a person walking across the platform facing backward, but with his/her hand stretched out behind their back as if being led. This, my prof argued, was what God continually asks us to do. Hold out our hand to be led by Him, but perpetually face backward. Look back across the journey and remember all of the ways God proved faithful: providing needs, guiding, leading, fulfilling promises, healing, restoring, and filling.

This is what the Hebrews did. This is why their exodus from slavery in Egypt is referenced time and time again. It’s referenced by the prophets Haggai, Micah, Amos, Hosea, Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah. It’s referenced again and again throughout the Psalms. As they progressed on their journey through history they have continually looked backwards and remembered all that God has done to faithfully guide, lead, and preserve.

Why? Because remembering all that God has done before reminds me that I can have faith and be confident that God will see me through whatever I might be going through today.

This all came to mind while reading today’s chapter. The author of Hebrews perpetuates the walking backwards word picture by urging his/her readers “Remember those earlier days…” and references a particular period in which the early Christians were persecuted severely. God had brought them faithfully through the persecution. The author then ends the paragraph with “So do not throw away your confidence.” There it is. Turn backwards. Remember. Then have faith. Press on confidently with your hand outstretched to be led.

This morning I’m thinking about the road lying before me on this life journey. I have many questions about where the path is leading. I also confess to more than occasional bouts with fear, doubt and anxiety.  I’ve been reminded this morning by a memory and a word picture from college. I’m taking a little time in the quiet to glance backward instead of ahead. I’ve been following Jesus on this life journey for over 36 years. I’ve experienced many things from God’s miraculous power to God’s presence and peace amidst tough times to God’s quiet faithfulness in the everyday mundane. In the remembering I’m reminded that I can trust God’s power, presence, peace and faithfulness for the road ahead, as well.

Hand outstretched, I’m going to keep walking backwards…confidently.

Featured photo courtesy of Mandee Johnson via Flickr

Recounting

“The following are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the Israelites defeated….”
Joshua 12:7a (NRSV)

In the fall of this year, Wendy is scheduled to direct a musical for our local community theatre called The Christmas Post. She’s directed it twice before. It’s been ten years since the last time. Yesterday Wendy was putting together some of the required paperwork and she handed me a list of all the shows she’s been involved in over the past 11 years. It filled the better part of a page, single-spaced.

Oh my gosh,” she exclaimed as she held up the list for me to look at. “This is a lot of shows! You don’t think about it until you really write it all down and see the whole list!”

She is right, of course. Along life’s journey I’ve discovered that it’s good to recount things. Just think about the word: re-count. Count it again. Make a list. Go over the list. Think about it. I have always had a bent towards history and nostalgia, so perhaps it comes a bit more naturally to me. Nevertheless, I’ve found it worthwhile. Recounting things reminds you of where you’ve been, which gives you perspective of where you are, which then helps you make informed decisions about where you’re going, which helps you choose the next step.

Recounting can also remind you of what God has done in the past, which strengthens the faith you need in the moment, so that you can press on in the journey to which He has called you. It is a repetitive theme throughout God’s Message: Remember these things. Teach them to your children. Don’t forget this story. Feast each year and recount what happened. Count your blessings and name them one-by-one.  “As often as you do this, remember me.”

Today’s chapter is not exactly full of inspiration. It’s simply a recounting of the kings who Josh and the 12 Tribes defeated. But it serves as a reminder that sometimes it’s good to re-count. Recount the good times. Recount the times God answered a prayer. Recount what got me to this place. Recount the lessons I’ve learned.

Happy recounting.

chapter a day banner 2015

The Power of the One Ring (Not THAT One)

Those twelve stones, which they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal, saying to the Israelites, “When your children ask their parents in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.’
Joshua 4:20-23 (NRSV)

I have a ring that is worn on a chain around my neck. Those who know my life-long love of Tolkien are likely to think it some homage to the ring of power in Lord of the Rings. The ring around my neck may be a ring of power, but its power is not in magic, elves, wizards, or the stuff of imaginative fantasy. The ring around my neck was a gift to me from Wendy. She gave it to me before we were married, and its power is in the meaning it holds for her, and for me.

The ring was and is, for Wendy, a special reminder of a waypoint in her own spiritual journey, and the things God had done in her heart and life. These things are a part of her story, thus they are hers to tell and I will leave it at that. When she knew that I was to be her husband and that God was bringing me into her story, the ring became a gift to me. It always hangs around my neck. It is a ring of power, even if its power is limited in significance to Wendy, me and God.

Memorial [muh-mawr-ee-uh l] noun. Something designed to preserve the memory of a person, event, thing, etc.

In today’s chapter, the people of Israel were called to create a memorial. Twelve stones, one stone for each tribe, were piled as a reminder of what God had done in drying up the River Jordan so that they could cross. They would preserve the memory of that event. When future generations asked about the pile of stones, they could learn the story.

We generally think of memorials as a reminder of people after they die, but memorials can be a powerful tool in other ways. When God does something special or remarkable in the life of a person, a couple, or a family, it is an opportunity to create a tangible memorial of His faithfulness, provision, deliverance, miracle, answered prayer, or etc. The memorial can be a powerful reminder, even if its power or significance is limited to the person, couple, or family involved.

Today, I’m thinking about the ring that has hung around my neck for nearly 11 years, and the fact that 99.9 percent of the time I forget that it’s even there. But, I catch sight of it in the mirror as I shave, or I feel it pop out of my t-shirt when I bend over, and it reminds me of Wendy, her journey, and her gift. It reminds me in the moment of what God has done in her story, in my story, in our story. I am reminded once again of grace, provision, and redemption.

Therein lies the power of the ring.

 

chapter a day banner 2015

Moving Forward Facing Backward

from Halans via Flickr
from Halans via Flickr

But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
Psalm 77:11 (NLT)

One of the recurring themes I’ve found on my sojourns through the Old Testament is exactly what Asaph does in his lyric of this psalm by “recalling all you have done, O Lord.” Time and time again the writers recount the many things God did as chronicled in the writings. One of my teachers once told me that the people of ancient Israel “walked backwards into the future” as their constant looking back and remembrance of all God had done before gave them faith to continue moving forward.

I was reminded this morning of an old hymn we would sing in church growing up which admonished us to “count your blessings, name them one by one.” It’s the same principle. Often, when the road ahead is dark and scary, the best prescription for moving forward is a long glance back to remember God’s faithfulness in bringing me this far. As I recall specific instances of grace, deliverance, forgiveness, and provision I find strength to take the next step.

Making a Memory

Here I Go Again (EP)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went past the field of a sluggard,
    past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
thorns had come up everywhere,
    the ground was covered with weeds,
    and the stone wall was in ruins.
I applied my heart to what I observed
    and learned a lesson from what I saw:
A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
and poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man.
Proverbs 24:30-34 (NIV)

I’m amazed at how our minds and memories work. If I’m listening to the radio and hear the Hollies‘  Long, Cool Woman in a Black Dress I am suddenly transported to Camp Idlewood, Rainy Lake, Minnesota where my family vacationed the first two weeks of August every year. I’m in Cabin #3 with my sister along with our friends Matt, Piper John, and Mark. The song is playing from an 8-track tape. Mark is being a clown and making everyone laugh as we try to sing the lead singer’s “Whoo!” at the right place in the instrumental bridge. It’s raining outside. I can picture it like it’s happening right now.

You find yourself in a funk and don’t know why. Then you remember something sad and depressing that long ago happened at this same time of the year. Your conscious mind had forgotten but your senses remember.

When I read the verses above I was suddenly talking to my friend Spike. It was the year between my freshman and sophomore year in college. Spike and I hung out a lot that summer, and one day he talked about these verses which he’d recently read. They made an impression on him and he quoted the last part of it from memory. That, in turn, made an impression on me. Thirty years later I read the verses and think of Spike. I think of the example of hard work he’s been to me in his academic pursuits and his successful career as a university professor.

We are making memories for ourselves, but more importantly for others. They can be positive memories or negative ones. The memories we create for others can be either healing or destructive. We choose through our thoughts, words, actions and relationships. How cool to imagine that someone might read a verse from God’s message and have a fond memory of me. Those are the kinds of memorable impressions I want to make for others.

Today, I want to live in such a way that it will be a pleasant memory for myself and others.

 

[An index of all Tom’s chapter-a-day posts covering every book and chapter]

Chapter-a-Day Numbers 15

Tassel making
Image via Wikipedia

God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them that from now on they are to make tassels on the corners of their garments and to mark each corner tassel with a blue thread. When you look at these tassels you’ll remember and keep all the commandments of God, and not get distracted by everything you feel or see that seduces you into infidelities. The tassels will signal remembrance and observance of all my commandments, to live a holy life to God. I am your God who rescued you from the land of Egypt to be your personal God. Yes, I am God, your God.” Numbers 15:37-41 (MSG)

Part of my job is to coach people to improve the customer service they deliver on the phone. Most often, the road to improvement means developing behavioral habits which have not been part of a person’s natural conversation. He or she must remember to say certain things inside their interaction with the customer.

To help people remember, I will often encourage them to use a mnemonic device – a visual aid that reminds them to say the appropriate phrase. For example, if people forget to thank customers for holding, I encourage them to put a small sticky note by the hold button on their phone with the word “thanks” written on it. When they reach over to hit the button, they see the sticky note and are reminded to thank the customer for holding.

These types of devices work. Visually seeing something that reminds us of something we’re supposed to do can help us remember. Even God knows that, and gave instructions for the people to sew tassels on their garments to remind them of God’s commands.

Small reminders can help us with much larger matters of faith, obedience, and spiritual discipline.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 17

The Divine Hours. And why? Because you have forgotten God-Your-Salvation, not remembered your Rock-of-Refuge. Isaiah 17:10a (MSG)
 

Okay, I admit it. I'm a forgetful person. Just ask my wife, whom I drive crazy with my forgetfulness. There are days when I pull out of the driveway only to pull right back in when I suddenly remember something I forgot to take with me. Somedays I'll pull back in the driveway two or three times before I have everything I need.

A few years I was waiting for Wendy at church and happened upon a book called The Divine Hours. It's a prayer guide with prayers to be prayed at four different times of the day each day. I read the introduction of the book about the ancient discipline of praying at different times of the day. I decided to pick up the book, because I thought that it would be a cool thing to try.

Over the past couple of years I've attempted to use The Divine Hours to build a habit of praying regularly throughout each day. I've come to realize how much I forget about God in the whirlwind of my daily activities. I'm pretty good at spending time in the morning reading God's Message and praying. Once the rest of the day starts, however, God easily gets shoved to the back-burner of my mind. More often than not The Divine Hours sits on my desk until the next morning when I, once again, realize that I gave God little thought the previous day and evening.

I don't want to remember God for just a few minutes of my day. I don't want to forget God as I remember all the tasks on my to-do list. I want to be mindful and engaged with God in the midst of and throughout all my daily journey. Today is a fresh start. Good habits are built one-day-at-a-time.