God Is Our Context: The Need to Remember

If we are going to trust our God, we must learn to trust his timing. If we do not, we will always be in a hurry, constantly be worried and, in our haste for tomorrow, miss what God has placed before us today.

Remember Dr. Shpancer. “We forget the past, can’t wait for the future, and interpret all of life by our current context.” He hits the nail on the head. That is what most people do but God has shown us a different – and a better –way. He wants his people to remember the past, wait patiently for the future, and interpret all of life in the context of God and his love, supremely displayed in Christ.

The need to remember couldn’t be any clearer in the Scriptures. Listen to Deuteronomy 4:9 “… be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.”

Remembering the past is critical to living well in the present. In the Bible, God’s people are told to remember the good things (like the awesome day they covenanted to be his people at Mount Sinai) and the bad things (like being oppressed and misused as slaves in Egypt). One of the ways we come to know what God is like is by seeing how he has acted in both our good times and our bad times.

People used to say: “Don’t forget in the darkness what you have seen in the light.” I haven’t heard that axiom for years, but it is good biblical counsel. In times of darkness, we mustn’t forget how God has blessed us in the light. In time of sickness, we remember the health that has been ours by God’s grace. In times of upset, we dare not forget the peace we have enjoyed. “Don’t forget in the darkness what you have seen in the light.”

But the opposite also carries biblical weight: “Don’t forget in the light what you have seen in the darkness.” When asked, people consistently say they have experienced greater spiritual growth during the dark times in their lives than they have during the bright times. When things are good – COVID is over, you get a pay raise, an extra week of vacation, and meet the person of your dreams – don’t forget what God did for you when you were down, when you were struggling, and afraid. You cannot know how to act in your present apart from knowing how God has acted in your past. Circumstances change, he and his ways stay the same.

One way to remember the past is to reenact it. Some of Israel’s most important holidays were festivals of remembrance – like Passover and Tabernacles – in which people reenacted the past. In this way they reminded themselves of what God had done for them, how he had worked, and what he was like. God’s people need to remember the past to live faithfully in the present. That is why, in Deuteronomy alone, the people are told to remember or warned not to forget more than twenty times!

We too must remember.

Dr. Shpancer also says that we don’t know how to wait for the future. He’s right. I’ve noticed that people my age and even older – retired, sometimes elderly – are impatient for the future, even though the future takes them ever closer to the grave. God made us future oriented and gave us the capacity to hope – and no one on the planet has better reason to hope than the people of Christ. But they must wait patiently.  

This entry was posted in Christmas, Sermons, Spiritual life, Theology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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