A Reminder to Remember

February 12th, 2014

“Remember the Lord your God! He’s the one who gives you the strength to be prosperous in order to establish the covenant he made with your ancestors....” Deuteronomy 8:18

The Israelites had wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Moses had died, and now Joshua was leading the people into the Promised Land. As God once again drew back the waters, the Israelites passed through the Jordan on dry land, and the Lord told Joshua to have twelve men (one from each tribe of Israel) take a stone. The stones were stacked together to create a memorial. Joshua explained to the people,

“This will be a symbol among you. In the future your children may ask, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you will tell them that the water of the Jordan was cut off before the Lord’s covenant chest. When it crossed over the Jordan, the water of the Jordan was cut off. These stones will be an enduring memorial for the Israelites.’”
(Joshua 4:6-7)

God didn’t want the people of Israel or the generations to come to forget what had been accomplished in that place.

The Bible is full of commands to “remember.” But what, specifically, does God want us to remember, and why? For starters, God wants us to remember:

  • how blessed we are,
  • the lessons we have been taught, and 
  • the ways in which God has guided us. 

There are lots of reasons God wants us to remember. God wants us to remember because in doing so we will:

  • be less likely to forget God’s Word, 
  • be more thankful, 
  • be less afraid of the future, and 
  • (hopefully) be less likely to make the same mistakes twice. 

In addition, there is another very important reason we should remember. In Deuteronomy 4:9, we read,

“But be on guard and watch yourselves closely so that you don’t forget the things your eyes saw and so they never leave your mind as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your grandchildren.”

While it is obviously important for us to remember for our own spiritual development, it is also important for our children’s spiritual growth.

Unfortunately, we humans have very short memories. That’s why God often commanded the Israelites to create a memorial of some kind to help them remember. Sometimes, such as in Joshua 4, God asked the people to create a monument or altar of stones. Other times God requested that they add certain items (such as a fringe or a tassel) to certain articles of clothing. Other times the people were asked to prepare and eat a special meal. The Old Testament is full of examples of God’ s instructions on physical elements that would serve to remind people of what God had done in their lives.

But what about us? Today, in the 21st century, how do we remember God’s work in our lives? We, too, are prone to forget. So, how can we be proactive in sharing God’s blessings and lessons with our children? Here are a few ideas:

Create a Monument

Don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be big or complicated. For example, perhaps you have been blessed with an addition to the family this year. Let your child help you paint and stamp your baby’s footprint onto a large stone. The older sibling can then paint the child’s name and date of birth on the stone and place it in his or her room as a paper weight or outside as a decoration in the flower bed (use water resistant paint). Maybe your family was blessed to buy a new house. If so, ask your child to draw a picture of the new house (or the old house). Put it in a frame and hang it on the wall. When you finish the project, remind your child of how God has blessed in the particular situation. Then pray together and thank God for the blessing.

Plant Something

Sometimes, remembering hurts a little. Maybe you lost a loved one this year, and you want your child to know about that person’s Godly influence in your life. Purchase a special tree or plant for your yard. Let your child help you plant it in memory of your friend or family member who has passed away. If you don’t have a place to plant something, then purchase a small indoor plant, and help your child decorate a plant stake (an upside down wooden spoon works great). Tell your child about the person who died and why he or she was important to you. Say a prayer with your child, thanking God for the person. Encourage your child to help care for the plant, and use it as a reminder of the special person for whom it was bought.

Write It Down

Many people write their blessings and lessons in a journal or notebook. Any notebook will be fine. Allow your children to decorate the cover. Include a pen with it, place it in a prominent and easy-to-reach location, and encourage your children to write/draw blessings in the notebook throughout the year. Some families create a “blessings” jar where family members can write things for which they are thankful on pieces of paper and then put the paper in the jar. Set aside a special time to review the blessings and to spend time in thankful prayer for the way in which God has worked in your family’s life.

Share a Meal

God commanded the Israelites to celebrate various festivals as times of worship and remembrance. Most Christians today are familiar with at least one of those—the Passover. The Passover was a special time of remembering God’s protection of the firstborn children of Israel who placed the blood of the lamb over their doorposts in Egypt. Holidays today are obviously another time that we can remember God’s blessings, but any meal can become a time to share. Take time around the table to share what God is doing in your life and then allow the rest of the family to share too. Make it fun for the children by creating a special “talking” stick. Let your children help decorate a wooden paper towel tube with markers and crepe paper streamers. Pass the stick to each person who wants to share. Or create a “blessing buddy.” Let your child choose a small inexpensive doll or stuffed animal. Hide the buddy under one person’s chair. Whoever finds the buddy under his or her chair has to share a blessing or a lesson.

We take for granted that we will always remember. We take for granted that our children know. God doesn’t take it for granted. God reminds us to remember, for our own benefit and for the benefit of our children. The Israelite’s forgetfulness often resulted in a falling away from the presence of God, either in their own generation or in the following generation. Children who are not taught about God’s love and blessings do not learn to know God. We obviously don’t want that to happen. Remembering is such a simple thing. It’s so simple that we forget.

Be intentional. Be creative. Remember.

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