Not Forgetting Where We Have Been

Not Forgetting Where We Have Been

Remembering is the key to life.
From the time we are infants and all throughout the rest of our lives, being able to remember is the key to successfully navigating life.

When we are toddlers, we learn to walk.
We have to remember this throughout our life.

When we are toddlers, we learn to speak.
We have to remember this throughout our life.

When we are a young child,
we learn how to do math, read, spell and develop social skills.
We have to remember this throughout our life.

When we are 16, we (most of us) learn to drive.
We have to remember this throughout our life.

And on and on it goes.
At each level adding new skills.
New experiences.
New tools for the journey.

Remembering is important.

Not remembering and becoming forgetful is a cause for concern.
This creates dis-ease.
Many have experienced a loved one navigating through this disease.
Simple tasks become much more complicated to perform.
The brain works backwards to infancy instead of forward into continued growth.

Again, remembering is important.
Which is why it is so fascinating to me when people,
who are without disease, fail to remember important things about life.
About life lived in abundance.
About the spiritual life.

My contention is that the whole of the Old Testament is a theology of remembrance.

It’s as if it is a continuous story to look back on to remember the highs and lows of the journey.

· The Garden of Eden – The risk of intimacy is being vulnerable and honest. Adam and Eve were “naked and not ashamed.” There was nothing that was hidden: physically, relationally or spiritually.
Then there was, which caused a rift in intimacy with God and one another and an exodus from the Garden.

· Cain and Abel – Jealousy is a relationship killer. Cain was jealous of the “atta boy” that his brother got from God for his offering. He was mad because God preferred his brothers offering. Cain brought “some” of what he had and Abel brought God “from the first fruits of his flock.” God was interested in an offering that was a sacrifice, not simply some of what each had.

· Esther – No access to the power structure. A woman. A foreigner. The story of Esther is the story of the providence of God to see His plan through. Even though God doesn’t interact with the people in this story personally, you can see the hand of God in the protection and prospering of His people.

· The Parting of the Red Sea – A story of a freed people and a pursuing army sees God showing up in a big way. First God promises to protect them and then God does it. It is a reminder of how God will always follow through on His promises.

· David and Bathsheba – David was not where he was supposed to be. Kings should be with their armies. He was not. He allowed himself to become complacent and covet the wife of another. Yes, she was beautiful, but she was not the kings to take. But he did. And he paid for it. But he was also redeemed. He is referred to as a “man after God’s own heart.” Redemption is always possible.

· Elijah at Mount Carmel – God’s power is always greater than that of anything else we can bring to the fight. Elijah was outmatched and handicapped in this faceoff. But God’s power shines through. The battle always belongs to God. Another prophet says it this way, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of Armies.”

All of these stories describe relationship in some way;
relationship to God and/or humanity.
And there are more stories.
They are all worth remembering.

The second reading last Sunday from 1 Corinthians last week is a good truth to be remembered: just because we have experienced the blessings of God does not mean that we can simply coast through this life of faith.

Paul writes,

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.”

1 Corinthians 10:1-5

God’s people got complacent.
They forgot their first love.
They forgot to love God and to love others.
They became selfish and invested themselves in things that were not good for them. This investment and love for other things made it so they were spiritually dumb at a moment when they needed to be spiritually present and they paid a consequence for that; death in the wilderness.

Which means they did not make it into the Promised Land.
By allowing themselves to become spiritually dull,
they missed the greatest blessing of their life.

This is something we should remember too.
The life of faith is a marathon and not a sprint.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Lent is a perfect time to assess and recalibrate.

Where is it that we have become dull?
What have we become dull to?
Where is God offering blessing in our lives?
What will it take to get there?
What will we have to give up to get there?

Sisters and brothers.
As the writer of Hebrews has penned,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:1-2



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