Crossways Concepts

Because it is all about the cross...

Insights from the scripture as lead by the Holy Spirit

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Did I Forget Something Important? Probably!

When you read the story of God and Moses bringing His people out of Israel, you see a story that seems so unlikely.  I am not speaking of the miracles of God, I am speaking of the lack of faith exhibited by the people.

Just imagine what it must have been like for them as they left Egypt, not only had they been witness to the amazing selective plagues on Egypt, but they walked through the Red Sea!  I would think that for anybody that saw Moses raise his staff and split the entire Red Sea so God's people could walk through on dry land, would never be able to forget that image.  How could any of those people ever forget that they serve a mighty God and that he is going to take care of His people?

Yet, instead of the lives of faithful service that you would expect to follow this miracle, the Bible chronicles a series of failings in which the people acted like they had no experience with God.  The Exodus is filled with the people failing to trust God and panicking that God is suddenly going to let them die off in the desert.  They complain incessantly, forgetting the cruel life of slavery that God had freed them from.  Then, worst of all, they keep wanting to turn away from the living god to worship idols.

As we read their story, it is easy to say, “They were so stupid! Can't they see that they are just asking for God's wrath?”  But, as we think objectively about our own lives, we can see just how short and selective our own memory really is.

Let me give an example from my life.  About 15 years ago, God, in His goodness and kindness, allowed me to participate in an incredible miracle.  There was a little girl, that I only slightly knew, that was terribly sick.  Her parents had been told that there was nothing that could be done, but to keep her comfortable, until her disease killed her.  The Lord laid this heavily on my heart and for a period of weeks I prayed and wept all hours of the day and night for this child.  I knew before the doctors did, that she had been healed.  She was indeed completely healed.

For me, as an infant Christian, this was a huge faith-builder.  Every time I thought of this event, I was filled by awe of our incredible God.  If I needed reminding of the power of prayer, All I had to do was to think of this girl's healing.  The very thought of this event was powerful.  The power and impact of remembering this was like when doctors put knock-out drugs into your veins, it produced a huge immediate effect, but instead of putting me to sleep, it excited me and filled me with faith.

Yet now, 15 years later, all the edge has been worn off of the memory.  Now, instead of being prominent in my mind and having a huge impact, this memory is more akin to something I have read.  While it is still faith-building, it no longer has the impact that it once did.

I'm sure the Israelites had a similar experience with how God got them out of Egypt.  For a while it seemed huge.  They KNEW they server the true and living God for whom nothing is impossible.  Then over time, the toils of daily life began to seem bigger and God seemed to be smaller.

Somehow, this disappointing experience is what it means to be human – we are cursed (or sometimes blessed) with a memory with which events lose their emotional impact over time.  Since God, our creator, knows this, there are many things that happen in His Bible that are keys to His recognition that we need help to remember.

Toward the beginning of the book of Joshua, there is an amazing, important event.  After 40 years of wandering, the Israelites crossed the Jordan river and entered the promised land.  In true God-style, He chose to remind them of who He is and how this whole journey began by dividing the waters of the Jordan river, so Israel could cross on dry ground.  God's instructions were:

After the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD spoke to Joshua, "Choose 12 men from the people, one man for each tribe, and command them, 'Take 12 stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests' feet are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night.' "
So Joshua summoned the 12 men selected from the Israelites, one man for each tribe, and said to them, "Go across to the ark of the LORD your God in the middle of the Jordan. Each of you lift a stone onto his shoulder, one for each of the Israelite tribes, so that this will be a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean to you?' you should tell them, 'The waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the LORD's covenant. When it crossed the Jordan, the Jordan's waters were cut off.' Therefore these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites."
Joshua 4:1-7)

God knows how we have faulty memories.  He instructed His people to set up a visible memorial, so they would remember what He did for them.  

The regular, scheduled reenactment of the events of the passover night were also designed to enhance the memory of His actions.  What did Jesus say at in the upper room, the night before His crucification?  He told His followers to repeat the actions in His memory (Luke 22:19).  When we partake in the Lord's Supper, then we are stimulating our memory be reenacting the Last Supper.

Although Christianity isn't a religion that wraps itself around rituals and symbols, these things can serve a purpose.  God knows, and we need to recognize, that our memories are leaky.  God is pleased with a heart and life that is open to Him and not rituals and symbols.  However, we may be able to help maintain our right heart and life through making a conscious effort to remember what He has done.  Sometimes, rituals and symbols may be useful tool to accomplish this.

We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries in our families.  Why can't we celebrate spiritual birthdays?  Why can't we celebrate the anniversary of significant events in our spiritual walk?

Our homes have photographs and certificates that remind us of special times, events and milestones.  Is there any reason that we can't make up items that remind us of the special times, events and milestones in our spiritual walk?

In our homes, we tend to have family traditions, how we always spend our Saturdays or things we always do at Christmas.  Often these traditions are something that we just fall into.  But, we can also create traditions.  Gather the family and celebrate spiritual events.  Re-enact the wonderful blessings of God.  Set aside time to share what God has done in each life.  Remember His majesty, His miracles, His blessings and His care for His children.

What we need to remember is that we have a lousy memory.  If there are things that are truly important to remember in all their fullness, and we need to take God's example and be very conscious about it.  We need to repeat, retell and re-enact these events on a regular basis to prevent atrophy of the memories.  While the memories are fresh, try to write them or record them being told, so that a record exists.

One of the major challenges is that when these events occur, we are sure that we will never forget this event or how special it was.  Yet we do.  God provided His Holy Word so we would not forget His actions with His people in the days gone by.  We need to create our own “memorial” system so we don't forget His awesome actions in our lives.  Through this we can praise Him forever.

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Lexington, Ky