I love storytellers. (Which is good, because I am surrounded by them)
Green family get togethers are just one story after another, and my side of the family also pulls out all the classic stories when we get together. (Never mention aardvarks to any relative of mine at Christmas-time…) Then my dad is a collector of old stories, those older than anyone alive now remembers. He researches genealogy and family history and shares the stories that he finds.
I love storytellers. I love that they can bring unity, laughter, or even tenderness to a group with just a few interlaced words. I love that they are keepers of family lore and I love that they keep our past alive in a new way.
Storytellers help us remember, and that’s a good thing.
All through the Bible, God challenges His people to remember, too. He told them to remember His goodness and His blessing, as well as His correction and His instructions. He told the Israelites to put a tassel on the edge of their clothing, “that you may look upon it and remember all the commands that the Lord has made and do them,” (Numbers 15:39); to make a pile of rocks, “that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’” (Joshua 4:6); and even the sacrifices they made reminded them that God had promised to send a Savior!
So why did God care so much about remembering? Why did the Bible instruct after a work of the Lord, “Tell your children about it, let your children tell their children, and their children their generation” (Joel 1:3)?
I think it’s because, really, we are pretty bad at remembering. At get togethers we tell a lot of funny stories or heartwarming stories or even frustrating stories, but when we face hard times or confusion, we have trouble remembering all of the times that God has helped. All we can see is what it feels like now.
The Israelites had that trouble in a different way than we do. They were terrified of the massive and strong countries they were about to go to war with. So, God told them to remember. Deuteronomy 7:17-18 says, “If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’— you shall not be afraid of them, but you shall remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.”
If they just remembered all the stupefying things that God had already done for them, they would be confident that God could do something like that again.
Memory upon memory grows trust upon trust. The more we live life, the more we see God’s hand helping us, and the more we “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), fully experiencing His goodness toward us. But when we walk through valleys, those experiences are hard to remember. So we have to remind ourselves.
We have to intentionally put in place ways to remind ourselves of the times that God has blessed, the times He has guided, and the times He has corrected us, just like the Israelites did.
Whether that is in a journal, a list of answered prayers, telling meaningful stories to one another, or even carrying a rock around in your pocket like Benjamin used to do, reminders are good things that point us to God when our mind just can’t seem to get there on its own.
So what are some things that you do to remind yourself of God’s goodness, direction, or correction? How has that helped your walk with Him?
Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth
1 Chronicles 16: 8-12