by Sue Duby
My brain mystifies me. How is it possible to collect (and store) random bits of information and hide others I need to find?? How can Chuck and I enjoy a Friday night popcorn-movie date on the couch and realize half-way through, “We’ve already seen this!” (we carry on since we can’t remember the ending anyway!). How often we now preface conversation with our kids with a smile and sheepish, “Did we already tell you this?”. It’s all a mystery, that fine art of remembering.
Last year, we wrapped up 30 years of missions/faith-based non-profit work. As part of navigating the new season of free time and open calendars (all laced with a bit of curiosity and angst), we realized we needed to do some serious “remembering” before forging ahead. Needing a “fun factor” along the way, we purposed to head to a new coffee shop each week for what became our “Remember Dates”. Sipping lattes, we slowly read through over 100 quarterly newsletters I’d written to chronicle those 30 years. Over 6 months of intense remembering. Fifty pages of bullet point notes on my laptop. Each time, we’d read a bit, share emotions and marvel at God’s hand. . . all along the way sighing after an hour, “I can’t believe our life! I’m exhausted!”.
Somehow in the journey, we finished refreshed, refocused and at peace for the new season. . . certain that God’s faithful, gracious and loving ways so clearly woven through those 30 years, would lead us securely to whatever came next.
Remembering is work. “To recall to the mind by an act or effort of memory”. “Be able to bring to one’s mind an awareness of (someone or something that one has seen, known or experienced in the past).” Intentional. Purposeful. An active choosing to do it. Requiring time to reflect and grab hold of the nuggets.
God reminds us often to remember, and in fact, exhorts us to do so. For our own benefit. For those around us and in our families. To lead us back to fully trusting His presence and ways in our lives in the present and future. Most simply, instructing us in Psalm 105:4-5 (NIV):
Look to the Lord and His strength.
Seek His face always.
Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles. . .
He’s not parted a river in my lifetime, but my list is long for ways He’s intervened, directed, protected and led in my life. In the obvious “big ones”, like saving my daughter Krista’s life twice (at birth and after a massive car wreck in college) and seemingly small (randomly finding a daisy bush for my cutting garden that wildly blooms until frost).
God reminded the Israelites often to recount His strong hand in their lives.
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
Deuteronomy 5:15 (NIV)
Knowing their human frame. . . just like ours. . . where passing time fades memories of even the most amazing, wonder-filled events, He exhorted once again.
He charged them to “not forget”. . . which only happens if you “keep remembering”. Not for themselves alone, but for future generations.
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9 NIV
Though our newsletter coffee dates may be finished, I’m still working those “remembering” muscles. Trying to find fresh rhythms to help me focus and not let days and events just slip by unnoticed. Paying attention along the way for moments of His intervention worth tucking away in my memory bank, as well as grabbing hold and pausing to reflect when a past event pops up on my radar screen. I’m hoping the list will grow, but for now these simple remembering steps stir hope and peace in my spirit:
- Waking each morning to recount 10 things I’m grateful for (big or small)
- Scrolling through the day in my mind before falling asleep at night. Recounting even seemingly mundane days reminds me – He was there!
- Continuing to “remember” with Chuck, as spontaneous conversations begin with one of us sharing random “I’m so grateful that we ________” moments.
- Purposing to weave our personal “God stories” into conversation with our grandsons. Remembering with them.
May He prompt us often to remember. . . as He remembers us, continually.
Psalm 77:11-12 (NIV)
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
Psalm 145:5 (NIV)
I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.
[Photos above by Sue Duby, used with permission]