Author - Janice Duffin - Mission Partner
Janice is a mission partner associated with Echoes International, who is involved in church planting and evangelism in France.
I don’t know about you, but I find that the things I’d prefer not to remember seem to stick in my mind and I find them difficult to forget. Then other things that I’d love to remember are all too easily forgotten!
Two hundred and forty times in the Bible we are exhorted to ‘remember’.
In the Old Testament, the people of Israel are exhorted to remember:
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God set you free; … Never forget that you were slaves in Egypt;… (Deut. 24:18-24)
In the New Testament, the Lord’s Supper is instituted by the Lord Jesus, so that we would not forget His death and resurrection, the most important events in the history of humanity. In Luke’s Gospel, chapter 22, verse 19 it says “Do this in memory of me.”
At times we remember collectively. The 150th anniversary of Echoes International is a good example, as staff and mission partners worldwide look back with joy and appreciation for all the Lord has accomplished.
Early July I had the joy of joining many others in celebrating 50 years of ministry of Eau Vive Provence and it was such a joyous, uplifting occasion.
It is good also to remember individually. On 24th August it was 41 years since I arrived in France. I took time to remember and to praise God for His amazing faithfulness each step of the way.
Remembering produces an attitude of gratitude, bringing joy in our hearts. It leads us to thank God for His faithfulness, His forgiveness, goodness, power, guidance, His unconditional love in all circumstances. It also inspires us to worship Him, to praise Him for the wonderful privilege of knowing Him, being forgiven, and enjoying His presence day after day.
Remembering produces an attitude of gratitude, bringing joy in our hearts.
Remembering God’s goodness leads us not only to express gratitude for the past, it also influences how we live, how we serve. The exhortation to remember in Deuteronomy 18 is followed by a command:
“that is why I have given you this command. When you gather your crops and fail to bring in some of the grain that you have cut, do not go back for it; it is to be left for the foreigners, orphans, and widows, so that the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. When you have picked your olives once, do not go back and get those that are left; they are for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. When you have gathered your grapes once, do not go back over the vines a second time; the grapes that are left are for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. (Deut 24: 19:21)
The Israelites were commanded to care for the poor and the foreigner, never forgetting how they had themselves been dependent as slaves in a foreign land. This was a practical outcome of their own experience.
Remembering also inspires us to trust God for today, for tomorrow, for the coming weeks and months of a new year. As we remember how He has guided us each step of the way, we can turn to Him again with our faith strengthened to ask for His wisdom, direction, guidance, provision. We can ask for renewed compassion for the lost and a renewed vision of what the Lord’s hand is accomplishing.
Once again, remembering collectively and individually can produce fruit in our lives.
Remembering collectively, rejoicing together brings unity in a team situation, as we see how each one has played his or her part, according to the specific gifts and life experience of each one.
Our human tendency is to compare, to measure up to others, to consider ourselves better or less competent, which can lead to rivalry or discouragement. However, rejoicing together for what God has accomplished through us brings it all into perspective. We remember that it is His work in us and through us, using the gifts and experience of each one, which brings fruitfulness. Our diversity is no longer seen to be a source of tension or competition, but rather an enrichment, complementary and productive.
May remembering, rejoicing at what God has done bring us individually and collectively to depend even more on Him, and to move forward with joy and expectation, trusting Him.