I seldom do. But when I do remember to remember, it is rich.
One thing that helps me in my remembering is my journaling habit. Every morning I download onto paper all the stuff that is in my head and in my heart, and the result is a haphazard collection of thoughts, whinings, wishes, memories, thanksgivings, frustrations, rejoicings, repentance, ponderings, pontifications and desperate prayers that are barely suitable for my eyes only—and yet, somehow God uses it all for good in my life.
For me, journaling is an act of in-the-moment, short-term remembering that I find extremely helpful. But the real payoff is when I look back in my journals—at the vaporous days, months, years and decades of my life—and recall, reminisce, weep, rejoice, reflect and remember. Without fail, in all my rememberings, I see the unmistakable threads of God’s mercies (which run into the billions) and the relentless, extravagant, faithful grace of God, woven in and through the story my life. (Ps. 119:156, MSG)
When I remember to remember, it is rich. It is how I learn and grow and become.
John Dewey says, “We do not learn from experience . . . we learn from reflecting on experience.” Just doing things and experiencing them isn't enough. The power to learn, change, grow and become is primarily realized in and through those things that we think about and reflect upon. Experience teaches us that there are some things to be avoided and there are some elements of the remembered past that may well be worth repeating. In God’s economy and grace it's about becoming all that we can be in Him. A primary way to do that is through remembering.
The story of God is replete with references to the act of remembering. From the early days in the lives of the Children of Israel, to the last few hours of Jesus’ time on earth, remembering is primary to the very core of being a follower of God. With his eyes on the future, Jesus sat at the table with the disciples and he equated the bread and wine before them with his body, blood, life and impending death upon the cross, and then He entreated them to regularly partake of the elements and when they do, . . . to remember.
“We won’t walk into God’s good future if we have no memories of God’s mighty acts on our behalf in the past. Or at least, we won’t walk into the fullness of that future, with all the power and healing force for our communities that God intends. Again and again in Scripture, one of the fundamental rhythms is that of remembrance.”
What got me started on all this thinking and talk of remembering is a song I recently came across by Steven Curtis Chapman called, “Remember to Remember.” The song and accompanying video moved me greatly (ok, I must admit, I wept). It caused me to remember and, it called me to remember.
So, I leave you with this: take a walk, go on a hike, find a quiet place and reflect; let the memories linger, resonate and . . .
Remember the way He led you up to the top of the highest mountain
Remember the way He carried you through the deepest dark
Remember His promises for every step on the road ahead
Look where you've been and where you're going
And remember to remember
—Steven Curtis Chapman
(Check out the song and video below.)