The Discipline of Remembering
Remember your leaders who spoke the Word of God to you – Hebrews 13:7a
Since childhood, the churches I’ve attended emphasize “holy habits” that should be part of a Christian’s routine; bible reading, prayer, and deeds of compassion are always high on the list. However, the practice of remembering never seems to make the cut. That’s a mistake. Remembering our story of God’s faithfulness is essential to our present faith and our future hope.
Rooted in the History of God’s People
The discipline of remembering is rooted in the history of God’s people. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel successfully crossed over the Jordan River on a dry riverbed. Before they moved on, God instructed Joshua to appoint twelve priests – one from each tribe – to return to the riverbed and take up twelve stones. God directed the priests to pile these stones at Gilgal as a memorial. God said, “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you will tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.” This pile of rocks was to be a memorial to God’s faithfulness for future generations.
In the years after God performed this miracle on the Jordan shore, His chosen people leaned into the next chapter of their amazing saga. As they traveled on, they would soon experience the challenges of establishing a new nation. They had entered the Promised Land, but it wasn’t Paradise. There would be conflict, sin, and difficulties over the months and years ahead. At times they would feel that going back is easier than going on. But retreating to the shores of the Jordan would take them back to Gilgal and to that simple pile of stones, the memorial to God’s past faithfulness. And they would remember; if God was faithful to deliver them yesterday, then He would be faithful to meet their needs today.
In the New Testament, Jesus was with the disciples the night before His crucifixion. He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and distributed it to His disciples saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” With these words Jesus initiated a practice that has become an ordinance observed by the global church for the past two millennia. Communion is a regular reminder of the faithfulness of God to reconcile people and all creation to Himself through the sacrifice of His own Son.
Again, the author of Hebrews calls people to remember God faithfulness that was demonstrated through faith-filled leaders. These leaders’ lives inspires us to serve faithfully in our own generation.
Easy to Forget
Remembering is an important habit because it’s easy to forget. Rather, our default is to recall the negative experiences in our journey. We naturally recall the pain, the suffering, and the injustices. So God does not recommend that we remember His faithfulness; rather, He commands it. For our health. For our hope.
In my next blog, I’ll talk about one leader who profoundly impacted my life. The leader may surprise you.