Remembering and Forgetting
Forgetting what we should always remember and remembering what is better forgotten are the twin plagues that can rob us of our heritage, our joy in each moment, and our legacy. For this reason, the Bible instructs us both to remember and to forget.
- We should always remember who God is in Christ Jesus, what He has done for us, and what He has promised to do. We must never forget the darkness out of which He called us and we must always remember to choose to walk in His light.
- At the same time we must forget the guilt of our sin for these things have been cleansed from our record in heaven. We must let the Lord heal us from the wounds of our history. God can heal our memories so thoroughly that there is no reason to cling to hurtful things.
In other words, the Lord can help us adjust our time consciousness to remember what we should remember and forget what we should forget.
There are memories and then, there are memorials.
A memorial is a more formal reminder of something of high importance. We celebrate the remembrance of birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays with memorial rituals. Some of us remember other milestones like the day we gave our heart to the Lord, the home-going of someone we love, or some other life-altering event.
In the USA, we celebrate a certain day in honor of the people who fought and died to preserve our political freedom. We simply call it Memorial Day. Throughout the country special ceremonies are held in remembrance. Prayers of thanksgiving are offered to God. People are encouraged to take the day off from work to enjoy the freedom won for us by those we honor. This memorial activity has many effects:
- We decorate the graves of the fallen.
- We are reminded of the cost of our freedom.
- We are humbled to remember those who gave all to preserve it.
- We are grateful to live in such a land.
- We renew our personal commitments to do our part to make their sacrifices count.
In the same way, each time of morning prayer is a memorial.
God not only hears our prayers, He collects them. They are the record of our service. In Acts chapter 10, we find an intriguing insight into this. An angel tells a Gentile believer named Cornelius that his deeds of mercy and his prayers had come before the Lord as a memorial—a remembrance. He was about to be involved in the spreading of the New Covenant into all the world, not just the Jewish people.
When we take time to pray each day, the effect on us is similar to the effect of Memorial Day.
- When we humble ourselves before our victorious Hero we do not bow at a graveside, for His tomb is empty.
- We kneel before an empty cross, the symbol of death and of resurrection.
- We honor the Lord Jesus who gave His life for us.
- We remember those who brought Jesus to us, so that we might know Him.
- We are thankful to live in this Promised Land of Grace.
- We renew our commitment to live for Jesus in this, our time of service and sacrifice.
Prayer maintains the brain.
Faithfulness to prayer keeps us from forgetting what we must forever remember while it heals the wounds of memories best forgotten. It is one thing when we remember—it is something else when God remembers! In prayer today and in the way we live, let us give Him something to remember!
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Lord Jesus, help me to never forget! My freedom to worship You is mine because of those who gave all to secure it. The lovely sanctuary in which I worship You was by built by others. Generations before me handed down the Word of God to me, leaving their loving fingerprints on the Holy Book. Help me move out today in full remembrance of such blessings and thus fulfill my heritage. Other things are not helpful to remember. Help me, Lord, to forget these things. Remembering the right things and forgetting the rest, I walk forward into this day to serve You with joy! In Your name, Amen!
America, the Beautiful
Words: Katherine Lee Bates; Music: Samuel A. Word
1. O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain;
for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee,
and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
2. O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine.
3. O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years
thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved