Each of us probably has more tools to help us remember than ever before. There are the lists and post-it-notes that some prefer and most of us have set aside the planners so popular of just a few years ago. (I confess I loved and lived by mine.) Now it is our phones, tablets, and computers that give us reminders. We may even ask Siri or Alexa or some other device to help.
It would seem we have no excuse for not remembering appointments, birthdays, anniversaries, and more. I wonder why it can be easy (for some…very easy) to still forget.
Is it the pace of our lives? Too many distractions? Or have we simply been bombarded for so long that we have tuned out?
For as important as all the things I named may be (along with more than a few others), I wonder how we remember the most central things.
How do you remember who you are?
We are bombarded on every side with messages about who we are or are supposed to be. Messages come as ads from every source imaginable as well as news, talk shows, movies, music, and whatever peer groups we frequent. There are also the internal messages. Some of these are echoes from parents and childhood long ago.
It should not be surprising with all those loud messages out there that children and young adults are confused about who they are. But they are not the only ones. Adults of all ages are not immune from some of the messages.
Those same messages create questions about who God is or at least blurs what we thought we knew or believed about Him. That can cause us to lose our mooring.
Little by little the study of history has been eclipsed by a metanarrative about social and cultural development. It takes only a reporter on the street asking a random person the most basic of questions to realize that few know the history of their country at even an elementary level. They don’t even know they don’t know and could seem to care less.
In 1905 philosopher George Santayana said:
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Then in 1948 in a speech to the House of Commons Winston Churchill slightly changed the quote of Santayana’s when we said:
“Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”
Though some may argue the relevance of studying history, there is a great deal of evidence to support the position noted in the two quotes.
God knew that very well. The Bible is not simply an historical book, but it contains history that anchors us to our place in creation and in our beliefs.
I think it is clear that God knew we needed reminders to remember who we are and who He is to us.
One example was the seven annual feasts that are laid out in Leviticus for the children of Israel after they were freed from slavery in Egypt. Each of them retold a different part of the story of who they were and who God was to them. The observance of these throughout the year was a reminder to them of how God had redeemed them and brought them to the Promised Land and provided for them.
This historical record and review was meant to solidify their identity for them as well as make clear who God was to them. These things also could remind them of what was good to remember as well as what was important not to repeat.
Reading what happened serves as evidence they needed the reminder, but sometimes ignored it.
These feasts are not a part of the life of Christian believers today and in the midst of all that bombards us.
What is it that reminds me, reminds us of who we are and who God is to us?
The Holy Spirit within us prompts us internally if we will pay attention. Time in the Word reminds us if we will cue ourselves and discipline ourselves to do it. Everything we see in nature can remind us as we take a breath, look up at the sky, feel the earth beneath our feet, hear the song of the bird overhead or the gurgling of a stream we walk by.
There are reminders all around us despite not having seven annual feasts. There are reminders beyond Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost.
The course of our life will be strongly influenced by whether or not we tune in to all of these and others. Brothers and sisters along the way will also be able to remind us.
But we must not forget it is our response and responsibility to the grace and goodness of God to keep these things before us, to remember our history, our testimony with Him.
Other things, other people, and the enemy of our souls will seek to tell us who we are or should be. These are not the source of truth we need.
The Lord is the only One who can tell us and remind us of who we are with 100% accuracy, unending grace, and everlasting love. He never lies.