A couple of days ago, as is often the case, I found myself having to delete some stuff off of my iPhone in order to make room for a new update. If you have an iPhone, surely you can understand that process! First, you open the ‘usage’ part of the settings to see if there are any space-hogging apps that you can part with. Second, you go ahead and start hacking away at all of the temporary stuff, like photos and videos. One thing that I have found out about myself is that I am a picture hoarder. I hate deleting photos…especially ones of my kids! But, you gotta do what you gotta do, so you spend what feels like an eternity scrolling and checking pictures that can go. The worst part about this process is that with each rep it seems like you delete almost everything on your phone only to find out you have only freed like .02 mb of space!! This leads to yet another round of space clearing. I hate this process.
Anyway, as I scrolled through my pictures, painfully checking the ones to delete, I came across a video I had made at the beginning of the year. This particular video included pictures that I had uploaded to Instagram throughout the year. In 30 seconds that video quickly navigated through my year via Instagram. After leaving that box unchecked and completing my current rep of deletes, I went back and re-watched the video for the first time since uploading it in January. I especially loved watching my children grow through the pictures and reliving special moments that had occurred during the months of 2013. I also realized just how much of those neat events that I had almost completely forgotten. I became thankful for the opportunity to remember and relish once again in those memories.
A thought struck me as I watched the video through for the third time. If I were to make a spiritual recap video for 2013, what would that look like? What kind of snapshots would be included in that 30 second video? I became convicted on a number of levels as I pondered this thought.
I recall having such a struggle to narrow down the pictures I could select for that video. I remember this process being quite difficult. After my first selection, the pictures flew by so quickly that it was impossible to focus on any one before the slideshow advanced. As difficult as it was to narrow down the selected pictures for that video, would it be just as difficult for us to actually find enough spiritual snapshots to include in the spiritual version? I began to imagine what I could include, but found myself struggling some to recall very many specific spiritual markers and events that I could include in the rotation.
As I realized just how much I had forgotten about the previous year, I found myself wanting so badly to somehow protect those memories. As I re-watched them, I became grateful for all that had taken place. I felt my affection for my kids and my wife rise up as it reminded me of just how blessed I am. I became joyful as I laughed at pictures that stirred memories, and even felt anxious as I remember not so fond ones.
A theme of remembrance runs through the entirety of the Bible. He commands some to build altars or monuments for the purpose of remembrance. He commands intentional repetitious teaching in Deuteronomy 6 so that future generations can remember. Even now God has instituted the ordinance of The Lord’s Supper for the primary purpose of remembrance and reflection. Notice the following verses…
“Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations.” 1 Chronicles 16:15
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” Psalm 77:11
“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:5-8
“Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered…” Psalm 105:5
“From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways.” Isaiah 64:4-5a
Forgetfulness can be dangerous. Forgetfulness can lead me into unfaithfulness because it blinds my eyes to his proven faithfulness.
I can become quick-tempered with my children.
I can take my wife for granted.
I can begin to coast in my work by lacking intentionality and passion.
I can drift into idolatry, seeking to find satisfaction in the wrong source.
I can begin to try to do things in my own strength.
I can begin to try to make sense of my surroundings by leaning on my own understanding.
I can begin to treat others with a lack of grace, love and mercy.
I can fall into disbelief or drift away from sound doctrine.
I can be taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit.
I can become aimless.
I can begin to really struggle in the face of hardship, lacking hope.
God calls us to remember because remembering is vital to our spiritual lives. We live in an age of deletion. The largest folder in the computer between our ears is labelled ‘temporary.’ We take in so much information through our advanced technology that we are constantly having to clear that folder to make room for more. We simply cannot do that spiritually. We must find ways to protect our spiritual memories. We must find ways to take spiritual snapshots of milestones in our own lives, as well as take time to meditate on the faithfulness of God through the ages. What are some ways we can do that?
1. Journalling. I am terrible at journalling. I have tried so many times and failed. I fight consistency, which is very important to this discipline. But I am beginning to see the value in it more and more. With journalling, I am able to record significant spiritual mile markers in my life. I am able to record my struggles, my failures, my successes and, most importantly, God’s faithfulness through it all. A journal can serve as a flashback video for my spiritual life; one that I should go back and read often so that I can remember how God has been faithful.
2. Scripture memorization. Scripture memorization can seem to be a daunting task. The Scripture that I have memorized has often resulted from repetition in writing sermons and lesson plans. I have spent time in intentional memorization, but not nearly as much as I would like. When I have, though, I can honestly say that whatever passage I am memorizing almost dominates my thinking. I have found that a drive to meet a memorization goal, for me at least, fills my mind. Even if you claim to have a poor memory, it is amazing how the Holy Spirit will bring passages that have been hidden in our hearts to the forefront of our minds at perfect times!
3. Meditation. In the business of this life, we must strive to create opportunities for consistent times of meditation. Often when we think about meditation, we picture some sort of transcendental humming while sitting, as my children call it, criss-cross-applescause. This is not the type of meditation God would have us doing. Meditation simply consists of getting some place free of distraction for an extended period of time, allowing for quiet meditation on God, his character, his faithfulness and his Word. In our world of rush, this will take some time. Sometimes it can take us up to an hour or more of uninterrupted quiet for our minds to simply calm down enough to actually meditate on anything! But the time cost ends up always being worth it!
4. Intentional Spiritual Conversations. We should have so much more of these as Christians. So often, though, we have to be intentional or they simply will not happen. Make sure these conversations take place in your small group, if you are currently in one. Create a small accountability group and plan meetings in which these kinds of conversations make up at least a part of the agenda. These conversations will foster opportunities for remembrance merely by casually sharing how the Lord has proven faithful in your life in recent days.
5. Observe & Celebrate Spiritual Milestones. At Westwood we ask our families to participate in a discipleship path that includes milestones. We ask our families to have several intentional ‘Faith Talks’ with their children each week, as well as always being on the lookout for opportunities to seize ‘God Moments.’ I am thankful for the opportunities I have to engage my children in spiritual conversations. It allows me to share with them how God has been faithful in my life, as well as help them grow in confidence in his faithfulness in theirs, as well. I also look forward to making a big deal out of spiritual milestones as they grow up. I want to celebrate those milestones in a way that promotes the importance of remembrance to them even while they are young. You can find out more about how we utilize milestones as a part of our family discipleship strategy here at Westwood here.
What other ways would you add to this list? What is one thing you can commit to doing in the coming days in an effort to strengthen your spiritual memory? How can you begin to intentionally take spiritual snapshots, or selfies, in order to protect your spiritual memory? Comment below with your thoughts!