Don’t Forget to Remember
I am not sure where I first heard the phrase, “Don’t forget to remember.” But it is an intriguing thought… do not forget to remember.
Have you seen people tie a string around their finger to remind them of something they needed to do or say? Others have used a rubber band around their wrist. Some have alarms on their phones, and many of us have lists…that have lists of things to remember.
This coming weekend is fondly called Memorial Day Weekend. Memorial Day is an American holiday honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Initially, this particular day originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials and participating in parades. It is easy, on such a weekend to forget the price of freedom, the cost of lives, and the pain of separation and loss that occurred in the Civil War. But we have experienced other conflicts where our men and women served in the military with courage, giving their lives for the country in which we are privileged to live.
What we see, and many people experience this weekend, however, is the unofficial beginning of summer, with family gatherings, picnics, trips to the beach, and the start of vacations. I do not mean to be judgmental, but instead to remind us that we tend to forget the significance of our Memorial Day, and to forget our story is to forget who we are and why we’re here.
No wonder remembering is such a central theme in Scripture. As God’s people, we are always in danger of losing our memory, forgetting who we are and whose we are.
The book of Deuteronomy records Moses’s final address to the people he’s led for decades. They’re about to cross the Jordan and occupy the Promised Land—now without Moses’ stable presence and leadership. No doubt, Moses chose his parting words very carefully. One theme dominates throughout: Remember!
“But be on guard,” Moses warns, “and watch yourselves closely so that you don’t forget the things your eyes saw and so they never leave your mind as long as you live.” (Deut. 4:9). When Joshua became their leader and crossed the Jordan River, they set up an altar of stones so that future generations would remember what the Lord did for them. That altar became known as an “enduring memorial for the Israelites” (Joshua 4:7). Why? Because God’s people’s most significant danger is forgetting their story—who they are and whose they are.
We are not without opportunities to remember. But we need to practice them because remembering is deliberate attention. We need to remember (especially this weekend) those who gave their lives for the freedom we presently enjoy in this country. We need to pay attention to those who have served us and served us well.
But we also need to pay attention and remember the One who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
Forgetting doesn’t take extraordinary effort; it just happens. If we don’t pay attention to God’s words and works, we lose our delight in them. We lose our way; we lose perspective. We forget who we are and whose we are. In these days of a global pandemic, growing unease, and conflicting information, we need to pay attention to what Jesus paid for our freedom says to us. And our paying attention is remembering what He said to us:
“I won’t leave you as orphans. I will come to you” (John 14:18). Or, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27). And, “Look! A time is coming—and is here! — …In the world, you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world” (John 16:32-33).
Here is the good news on this Memorial Day Weekend: “No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
We are a blessed people.
People have died on our behalf, and we pause to remember them this weekend, and beyond.
Christ died specifically for the forgiveness of our sins and reconciled us with the Father and is even NOW present with us through His Holy Spirit. He is WITH US!
Whatever you do, Don’t forget to remember!