Years ago, I attended a Friday night high school prayer meeting. One evening a young woman stood up and said that she ran a red light on the way to the meeting. She was pulled over by a policeman who asked for her license. Moments later he ran back to the car, tossed her license in the window, and exclaimed, “Lady you are so lucky. I just got an emergency call. I gotta run.”
The next week another young woman stood up. She explained that she had never considered Christianity until the previous week when she attended the prayer meeting. She thought the singing was fun, but the whole of idea of praying to “something out there” seemed weird.
Later that week, she too ran a red light. She too was stopped by an officer who asked for her license and walked back to his car. For the first time in her life, she prayed: “God if you are there, could you help me like you helped that girl at that prayer meeting?”
Moments later, the officer ran back to her car, threw her license in the window, and huffed, “Lady you are so lucky. I just got an emergency call. I gotta run.”
Word for word, exactly like the woman the week before.
Some scholars argue that the most repeated commandment in all of Scripture is, “Remember!”
- Psalm after Psalm tells the Israelites to remember their unnatural escape from Egypt and their supernatural sustenance in the desert.
- The Israelites aren’t told to “obey” the Sabbath; they are told to remember it.
- When the disciples are short of food, wondering what to do, Jesus rebukes them saying, “Do you not remember … when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand?”
- Paul told the Corinthians that he resolved himself to know nothing but Christ and him crucified; that his entire life mission was to “remember” Christ’s glory on the cross.
When we use the word “remember,” we normally mean a recollection of facts or experiences, like “I remember 9/11, exactly where I was sitting and what I felt.” But the Biblical meaning of remember isn’t an album of information, it is a call to action. It connects the past events of God’s action with his ability to work today and asks him to act:
- Then the thief said to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)
- Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them. (Ps. 106:4)
And whenever people forget God, they fall back into rebellion:
- They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember his power or the day when he redeemed them from the foe (Ps. 78:41-42).
Why Remember? Why Not “Obey”?
The Hebrew meaning of remember was to unite something in our heart. It’s almost as if the English language captures it perfectly; in English, the opposite of remember is not forget (that is the opposite of recollection), the opposite of remember is dismember. When we forget God, our heart, soul, mind, and strength are ripped apart.
We are disjointed inside; we want to love God, but we sometime want our neighbor’s BMW more. We want God’s blessings on our work, but we also want that promotion today not tomorrow. Our souls are cut in pieces when we see today only and forget the eternal God, yesterday and tomorrow.
Remembering reunites our body, soul, spirit, and heart in seeing Him as He is.
Just last week I remembered the story of those two young high school women who prayed for deliverance from a traffic ticket. They didn’t deserve it—they really drove through red lights—but God granted their prayers because of his mercy (and probably his good humor as well).
When I remember those two little miracles, something in my heart begins to unite. I feel a little more bonded to God. He really can do anything; and if he isn’t doing what I ask today, he has a better plan than I imagine for tomorrow.
There is no more powerful spiritual exercise than to remember; to tell each other stories of God’s actions in our lives, to unite our hears as we remind each other of the time he answered our prayers; to re-hear that proclamation, “Lady, you are so lucky!”
Or was it luck? I don’t want to forget.
P.S. Please bear with me. Only once before, in ten years, have I ever promoted an event; but this is worth it.
My friend Gary Barkalow and I created a small, intimate community where Christians can share their lives (and remember His actions). We also offer online classes. (Hearing God is coming soon.)
Right now, we are offering a class on Calling: Discovering Your God-Given Passion & Purpose. It begins October 19th and costs $119.99.
I’ve been working with Gary at Calling events for more than ten years. I’m not compensated for it (I even pay my own travel); I do it because I long to see believers walking in their unique God-given purpose, and this is the best course I know of.
Through this 5 week course, you will learn the biblical understanding of Calling, and you’ll come to discern how God has been revealing your calling to you over the years, and how to decipher those revelations.
By the end of the final session, you will have articulated your God-given passion; and you will understand your next steps to continue the journey into your calling.
To join click here: Noble Heart Community (Feel free to invite your friends.)
Re-member!! Rejoin yourself to that incident
Exactly; re-member our dis-membered body, soul, mind, spirit, strength as we re-member who God is.
Katherine Scott Jones
This post greatly encouraged me today. I’ve copied about half of it into my journal…so that I may remember. Thank you.
You are ALWAYS so encouraging. Are you that way in all your life?
Sam, this is soooo good! The timeliness of it stopped me in my tracks. My time in the Bible this morning included Psalm 78. Because that psalm is so long, I was at first tempted to cut it short, but as I began reading–out loud; I’ve taken to reading the Scriptures out loud–I became captivated by the psalmist Asaph’s recounting of God’s great deeds and the interactions between him and Israel. My response was twofold: awareness of my failures, my sins, and my lack of consistency before my Father, but awareness also of his presence here with me now, of his faithfulness to me, of his unwavering LOVE for me.
And now your post. Thanks, brother. God has used you to encourage me this morning. I am so “lucky”!
Isn’t God just great? I LOVE that you read Ps. 78 and I quote it, all on the same day.
God is up to something in our lives.
Some scholars argue that the most repeated commandment in all of Scripture is, “Remember!”
— Psalm after Psalm tells the Israelites to remember their unnatural escape from Egypt and their supernatural sustenance in the desert.
— “The Israelites aren’t told to “obey” the Sabbath; they are told to “remember” it.
— “When the disciples are short of food, wondering what to do, Jesus rebukes them saying, “Do you not remember … when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand?”
— Paul told the Corinthians that he resolved himself to know nothing but Christ and him crucified; that his entire life mission was to “remember” Christ’s glory on the cross.
After all of the times I have read those passages, I never noticed that! Thank you!
It’s amazing, really; the more I read Scripture, the more I realize one of the major points (so obvious I never saw it) is for me to “remember” — from creation, to sin, to God’s pursuit of our hearts, to our continuing to go to idols instead of God (and “remembering” what a disaster that always brings), to the cross.
Hi Sam – once again you have touched a nerve that most people will feel. As I say in my book”Like Eating Jelly with Chopsticks”: “‘God is NOT in control’, he gave his creation (all people) the choice to choose life or death, good or evil. If God is truly in control then it is He, (not us) who is responsible for 40 million babies killed through abortions, or six ,million Jews killed during Nazi Germany’s Holocaust.”
NONE-THE-LESS, as you recount in today’s story, there are often times when The Lord will intervene in human events on our behalf. But, how can we assure that our prayers will be answered?
Provers 15:8 tells us that,”Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior of our lives. The prayer of the upright is His delight.” Thus, if we are “righteous in God’s eyes, He will be likely to grant the subject of our prayers. Yes?
But how do we become righteous? We become righteous by 1: Believing in Jesus as our savior, and 2: Receiving Him as Lord of our lives. When we are in this state of believing and receiving, it may be more likely that “miracles’ will occur, such as the ones in your story today.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, there is NO ROTE procedure by which we can “force God’s hand” to act in our favor. As He gives us free choice, so He too has the free choice to bless us, or simply stand back and let us deal with the consequences of our own behavior. God will never “curse” a believer, but we may be “cursed” by the natural consequences of our own choices. Can I get an AMEN!!??
What a timely message for me. “Remembering” helps us to choose to trust God in all things. With all the chaos swirling around us, with so many things to be anxious about, let’s trust God. “Remembering” can bring the peace of God we desire. Thank you for reminding me!
I like your word choice, “Remembering helps us ‘choose’ to trust in God.” Yes, exactly.
I had one of those “aha!” moments again when reading your blog. I’ve always been puzzled by passages like Exodus 2:23-25, where it says that God “remembered” His covenant. Surely He never forgot it! I’ve been sort of satisfied with the idea that the only way we can understand God is by using human concepts to describe Him, knowing that we shouldn’t take them too literally. But your explanation that the biblical meaning of remember is a call to action makes so much more sense. Every time the Bible says that God remembered, it always go on to describe His actions on behalf of His people.
Another note to add to the margins of my Bible—I don’t trust my old brain to remember it.
That is so good Sam . Thank you. A simple yet such powerful life changing thing to do!