To remember well isn’t as much about recalling the past as it is about the hope it gives us for living well in the future. Remembering is the great antidote to pride, fear, and anxiety.

I was reminded not long ago of the importance of remembering as my wife and I drove to church one Sunday morning.

Remembering is more than memories

As I came to a stoplight I heard a gentle jangling from the seat next to me. I glanced to my right to see Janet’s fingers fumbling with her charm bracelet, something she had not worn in a very long time. She fondled each charm from her teenage years like she was praying the rosary, while reminding me of the significance of each one. I knew most of them since we’ve known each other since we were 13 years old.

“This one I got at Gettysburg on our senior class trip. And here’s another from when I was editor of our school newspaper. Then there’s the trombone charm about my time in Marching Band. What a disaster that was! Oh, and here’s one with a picture of you from when you still had hair. Take a look.”

The stoplight then turned green and I pulled ahead, so I couldn’t look. But I smiled because of those memories. Especially about the charm with my picture, where the part in my hair was a lot smaller than the much larger one on my head now.

Janet stopped collecting charms long ago, but they all still hold a special fondness for her. Each charm on her bracelet is a pleasant reminder of the 60s, the decade that gave us bell-bottom pants, the Beatles, miniskirts . … and each other.

Remembering where we’ve come from and what we’ve been through is the context for something more valuable than pleasant memories. 

A better kind of remembering

A better kind of remembering that’s deeper than nostalgia is described in the Bible, specifically in Deuteronomy 8. Seven times in this passage Moses tells the people of Israel to remember where they have come from and where they are going. Its purpose goes beyond savoring sweet memories of the past. It is remembering that keeps us humble in both the battles and blessings of life.

Moses reminds his people to remember that no matter how difficult life was in the past, God was always there for them. He led them through some very dark days to see what they were made of. To improve their character and to keep them dependent upon him.

To remember well keeps us humble

Moses reminds Israel that even the blessings of life are designed to humble us. When people start to think the good life has come to them because of their own intelligence, skill, or hard work they must think again. For it is only God who gives us intelligence, who equips us with ingenuity, and who enables us to create wealth. God wants us to remember that the blessings of life are from him, not because we created them ourselves. He alone is the source of our blessings. May we all remember as the Israelites were called to remember.

Hope for the future lies in remembering our past

Our life becomes much more meaningful when we remember God’s participation in it. Being fully aware of God’s active involvement in all our struggles and successes gives him the glory. It shines a light on him, which is where it belongs in thinking about where we have come from, where we are now, and where we are headed.

Remembering how God was there for us in the past gives us hope for dealing with life’s challenges in both the present and future. He was there for us back then; he’ll be there for us again.  

What about you?

I wonder what blessings and battles you’ve been through that remind you of God’s involvement in your life. Events that happened, where looking back you can see God’s fingerprints all over them.

I’d love to hear any stories you feel free to share about this topic. You can leave them in the comment box below. Hearing about God’s involvement in the life stories of others encourages us to see his involvement in our own.

Other Relationship Resources

Last week’s blog post, “Provide the Best Life You Can For…”

Podcast Episodes of You Were Made for This

093: Remembering Deepens Our Relationships

100: Start Conversations with Remembering

109: Rekindle Relationships by Remembering

THEM -The Richer Life Found in Caring for Others

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