Memory is perplexing.  How is it that some have incredible recall while others have to be reminded?  Some remember details while other like me remember concepts.  I’ve been intrigued in my Bible meditations how often God calls the early Hebrews to ‘remember’ and understanding why that is.  In just the book of Deuteronomy, the NIV records 16 times God calling the people to remember!   It wasn’t because they could not recall an incident like the parting of the Red Sea.  Rather, I suspect it was because the people failed to remember what the incident was telling them about who God was and their relationship with Him—not just what He did.

God knew humanity had a memory problem because of the fall.  He even told them how to jog their memories by having them tie tassels with blue cords on the corners of their garments.  When they saw the tassels, they would remember to obey all His commandments (Nu. 15:39-40).

In Deuteronomy 8:1-5 He commands the Hebrews to remember what He had done to humble them, etc.  In the next chapter He commands them to “remember and never forget” the effect their rebellion had on Him.  Later in Isaiah 17:10 He explains to them how disaster will happen to them because you have forgotten the God of your salvation…and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge.”

In Jesus’ day, the people saw His signs and wonders, heard His teachings, some actually walked with Him, yet they did not remember the significance of what He did and said or what they sensed while they walked with Him.  Today we have had personal encounters with the Holy Spirit and we have seen Him do marvelous things in our lives or in the lives of those around us—just like the Hebrews.  Like the Hebrews we remember the incidents, even asking God to show us more of them because they titillate our sensations.  But we fail to remember the spiritual significance of those encounters and acts of God in our lives.  It begs the question, Why?

Children remember the fun things they get to experience.  I’ve also observed a child who doesn’t have the opportunity to spend time with their dad (for example), will specifically remember the bonding relationship they felt when they did something fun together.   From that I’ve learned…

  • What God wants me to remember is not just the sensation of the encounter with Him or the sign or wonder I experienced or observed, but more importantly what those delightful experiences said to me about who He is and the intimacy of our relationship.
  • My love for God must be deep enough to motivate me to identify ‘tassels’ in my life that will help me refocus on God, yet not allow those ‘tassels’ to become the end in themselves. While spiritual disciplines bring me closer to God, I cannot allow a spiritual discipline to become an end in itself.
  • Lastly, instead of just reacting to an expression of God’s grace to me, I hope to be able to apply this principle by looking beyond the sensation of the experience to see it as an expression of His loving relationship with me.

How well is your recall aligned with your relationship with your Father God?