As I begin my 35th year at Stoneybrooke, I have been doing quite a bit of wandering “down memory lane.” Being the head of such an amazing school and ministering along side such amazing people has created quite a mental warehouse full of choice recollections.
At staff retreat, I was sharing about the first day of school in 1983. Dennis Bock and I had stayed late the night before getting everything ready. We came back just a few hours later and realized that I had locked all the schedules and notes for the first day in my office. And, I did not have a key.
We had to hoist up a little kid, push back the ceiling tiles, hang him over the edge of the sheet rock and drop him to the floor. He opened the door for me and we were able to start school!
Like everyone, I have hundreds of stories that I enjoy remembering and sharing.
But “remembering” from a Biblical perspective is much more than just flipping through our mental file cabinet of yesterday’s events. The Old Testament word for “remember” is “zakar.” It occurs over 230 times in the Hebrew text. And it does not just refer to a recollection of information.
This term is all about remembering the past in a very specific manner so those facts have an impact on the present and or the future. It is a focus that results in some action. Let me give an example.
In Genesis 9, God says that whenever He brings clouds over the earth and a rainbow appears, He will remember…. He will remember the covenant He made with Noah and will never again allow the waters to destroy the earth. His remembrance results in His faithful action.
In I Samuel 7, Israel wins the battle against the Philistines and they are told to put up an Ebenezer stone of remembrance. He wanted to remind Israel “Thus far, the Lord has helped us…” And of course, He will continue to do so.
Over and over in Deuteronomy, God repeats the phrase, “Remember you were slaves in Egypt…” He didn’t want them to just focus on the horrors of that experience. Instead He wanted that memory to spark their confidence that just as He had led them out of that terrible experience, He could be trusted with their future.
Remembering God’s faithfulness to ourselves, our families, our churches and our communities sets us up to be ready for His next encounter. An old memory might be sweet for a moment, but a full remembrance of God’s grace will turn our attention to the next application of that grace.
So, let us do our remembering for a purpose: “…We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.” (Ps. 78:2-4)