I’ve lived in my house for three years now and finally, FINALLY, I’ve framed and hung the family pictures. It took much time, but it’s done. And I love, LOVE, having them up.
The other day I was standing in front of the pictures staring at a shot of Eve, a picture I’ve seen a thousand times. She’s laughing, her eyes big, her mouth wide open. I was staring at the picture and beyond it, thinking how much I love that child and thinking about nothing at all, too. Somehow, looking at pictures takes me right past thinking, straight to feeling. I felt happy.
My husband Justin sidled up as I stared. We stood side by side, silent for seconds. Looking. I said, “I love looking at these pictures.” I said, “When our kids are crazy and screaming, looking helps.”
I started to explain. I said, “I like knowing this moment isn’t every moment. There’s more.” I thought, “When I’m doing dishes or begging my four year old to eat, it’s nice to look at a picture of me on a bridge in Venice.” It’s nice to know that kind of thing happened.
He nodded, reading my thoughts, and smiled. He said, “That’s the power of remembering, right?”
Remembering pulls us back into better moments, moments when the light was brighter and laughs were louder, and while that could just make things worse, it has the potential to make things so much better. Because in remembering our joys we’re convicted that joy is possible—not just possible—probable. Remembering says, “It happened before, it can happen again.”
This year our Christmas service at Round Rock will center on the idea of remembering, of its potential, its power. We’ll see how the past can inform the present, pushing us into the future with confidence, assurance, and joy.
Remember is a popular word in the Bible. God tells His children again and again, “Remember Me.” “Remember what I’ve done.” “Remember Who I am.” “Remember the promises I made.”
God needs His people to remember. He needs them to remember, in darker moments when He seems less present, Who He is and what He has planned SO THAT they can endure the present and walk with assurance into the future He intends.
In Psalm 77 David finds himself in one of those dark places, in a moment when the veil between heaven and earth is thick and heavy, obscuring. He writes:
Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?
David is clearly in a bad place. He feels rejected, unloved, ignored.
So, what does he do?
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
And that’s what it takes for things to change dramatically. For David, remembering what God had done in the past reminded him of the kind of God he served. He was reminded that God, his God, is saving and wonder-working. He writes:
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
David knows: If God could do it then, for them, He can do it now, for me.
When I’m hurting, I remember a time when God healed or helped. When I feel alone, I remember a time when God dropped a friend into my life with no notice at all. When the money’s tight, I remember that random check in the mail or that friend who had no idea how much buying lunch meant.
When I’m up against something impossible I remember what God—World-Shaper, Water-Parter, Death-Defier— what that God has done and can do.
Like David, I’ve seen God work. And like Mary, Jesus’ mother, I’ve stored those things up in my heart. My memories, the ones I’ve lived and the ones I’ve borrowed from stories old and true, are powerful reminders of my God’s faithfulness and love.
Remembering gives me peace for today and hope for tomorrow.