Remembrance Day will soon be here; a day when we remember those who have fallen in battle. This is a solemn time when we remember the sacrifices of others to protect us. As I walked Milo one morning, God spoke to me about the importance of remembering. His point was, as a family, we needed to remember what was important. Memory plays a vital role in our wilderness journey, but there is a twist as memory can serve the purposes of either ‘self’ or spirit. It is important to understand just what we are remembering.
On November 11, we remember the soldiers that died in battle; but would we have remembered them without a formal Remembrance Day ceremony? Even with this day of remembrance, how many will remember their sacrifices on the battlefield? Do many even care? As mankind sinks deeper and deeper into a ‘self’ focused world, more and more people skip remembering what others have done for them.
The act of redemptive remembering is just too hard for many.
Thankfully, there is a God who watches over us and sees all time in truth. There is no escaping His penetrating gaze. One of the most powerful tools He has given us is our power to remember. The problem we have is that our memory has to be in line with His truth and not our ‘self’ nature. We need to remember as He does, and not as we wish to remember; otherwise we will go astray. To help with these memories, God has, in the past, instructed our forefathers to build memorials specifically to help them remember that which our ‘self’ nature is so willing to forget.
Remembering is a key part of who we are for it connects our past to our present and helps us understand where we have been. In the Bible, we have instances where God instituted memorials were to act as a witness for future generations. “And Joshua said to them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God in the midst of the Jordan, and take up every man of you a stone on his shoulder, as is the number of the tribes of the Israelites, That this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, What do these stones mean to you? Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over the Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever.” Joshua 4:5-7.
When Joshua and the Israelites left the wilderness, God wanted them to remember what He, and they, had done, and so He had them build a memorial. Others, who had not experienced the event, would then be encouraged to ask what the memorial meant. They built this memorial to help their descendants understand just what happened from God’s perspective.
Memories of ‘self’
‘Self’ is so focused on the present the past is often a burden.
The old statement, ‘those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it’ is as true today as when it was first uttered. ‘Self’ is very selective about what it allows the soul to remember. Acts of selfishness and hurting others are often glossed over, minimized or forgotten to avoid responsibility. ‘Self’ often blows accomplishments out of proportion and exacerbates grievances from past wounds. Pride and fear live together as ‘self’ cherry picks and gives to our mind, heart and will only those memories that serve its deviant purposes.
The simple act of remembering when ‘self’ is in control is fraught with danger. The death of ‘self’ eliminates this danger and the only way we know how God can destroy the ‘self’ in us, is through the season of the wilderness.
The battle over memory
‘Self’ resists death and flails about trying to escape. In these moments God would beckon us to remember. Sometimes He would point us to Scripture to show us where He had provided for the Israelites and the early Christians. More frequently, however, God would remind us of the miracles of provision He had done for our family in the wilderness when we needed it most. We first took a leap of faith that He would provide; but after, we had many experiences with His provision.
Our journey became less about blind faith and more about knowledge and trust.
We have found that the simple act of remembering is a battle. ‘Self’ will wax eloquent there is nothing miraculous in the wilderness; all we have endured is mean and cruel. It will darken all memory, expunging it of good to throw us into despair, discouragement, and despondency. Fueled by darkness, satan and our ‘self’ nature wants us to see is how bad our trials and sufferings are. With hopelessness, fear and anger ‘self’ strips Jesus from our memory so we only remember evil.
Spirit will turn our attention to God and show how He has orchestrated time, events and people to complete His purposes. The Holy Spirit will lift us past the negative voices of ‘self’, satan and others, so we can see our past in the radiant light of how Jesus is leading and providing. There is no despair in Jesus’ voice; only the promise that God will never leave nor forsake us.
The two different perspectives of ‘self’ and spirit affect our ability to remember. Who wins these battles in the wilderness over our memories is critical.
Remember we are not objective observers of our experiences, but are subjective participants. We will always have the interloper inside of us called the ‘self’ nature, which will hijack our memories for evil. ‘Self’ has the support of the demons and satan to elevate only what will discourage uncompromising faith. There is no situation we will find ourselves in that satan and ‘self’ will not twist to kill our faith. The Holy Spirit of God, however, will always remind us of what He has accomplished, and what we have experienced of His provision.
In every circumstance, every event, no matter how small, God actively provides in the wilderness. He wants us to focus on and remember His great love and sacrifices; even as we lay down our lives as a sacrifice for Him. Always know what we choose to remember is as important as the exercise that we remember.
We must remember God’s goodness. This is essential for our faith to grow.
Remembering and faith
Many preachers, teachers, prophets and leaders suffer from the delusion that faith is a passive intellectual exercise; bereft of actual physical experience. Nothing could be further from the truth. God designed faith to be lived daily. Anything less is not biblical. Faith requires action and our active participation in its development and growth. What is one active ingredient of faith God is looking for? – Memory.
The active portion of faith is remembering the events that God has done in our past, to encourage us to keep going.
When we remember God’s acts in our life, we are honoring and giving glory to Jesus; but we are also building our uncompromising faith to take the next step of obedience whatever that step may be. This is the active faith that will protect us in the days ahead as we cannot see what is coming. Our ‘self’ nature will attempt to convince us that the hardships and sufferings of the past will continue; but we must counter this lie with active faith, remembering God’s loving provision.
We build uncompromising faith from the memorials of God’s miraculous provision.
It is now time we remember, not through the lens of ‘self’, but through the eyes of the spirit. As God provided for our family a Spritz Up drink or hot dogs and cake when we were very thirsty and hungry, so He will provide for you. I can even remember that one night in November 2011 when I had to hike through muddy fields with ice cold sleet coming down and howling wind just to get some tarps to keep my family warm. Do I remember the pain and cold? No, instead I remember singing the sweet song, Jesus Loves Me, as Jesus walked beside me and the angels sang along with me in complete harmony. That, my friends, is how remembering works.
Homer and Wanda