Active Remembering

When we “Don’t Forget to Remember” and live with “Purposeful Remembering,” we keep God’s activity and character throughout history and in our own lives fresh in a way that fuels our faith. This active remembering results in going well beyond recalling and to letting our remembering affect our lives in visible ways. In other words, others will see the impact remembering God has on our lives. With that, our active remembering actually becomes a testimony.

But what does this active remembering look like? How do we know that we aren’t just recalling but are letting our remembering affect our lives in an active way? Maybe a better question is, “What are the results of this active remembering?”

“Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old.” (Isaiah 43:18)

We don’t dwell on the past. As I tell my boys when they make a mistake, “Learn from it and move on.” Too many people live in the past. They live with unforgiveness and bitterness. They tell the same stories over and over again, and a backward focus keeps them from living in the now or from ever moving forward. While we want to remember God’s activity throughout our lives, we don’t want to dwell on our depravity — on ourselves — in any way. Instead, we want to focus on what God has done to increase our faith about what He is doing and will yet do in our lives.

“Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:33)

We serve Him faithfully in the present. This speaks to obedience. Serving God faithfully in the present means knowing and doing what He desires because we know from our past that He always does what’s best for us and simply asks us to trust him in that journey. Serving God faithfully right now also speaks to faith, which often grows out of obedience as we gain more experience living in His consistently full grace.

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)

We trust God for the future. Our culture says to create our own future. It says to take control of our lives. But God says to trust Him and let Him control our lives. He always outdoes anything we can think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), and some of us can think of and imagine quite a lot. But as we remember His work throughout our lives, we’ll see that His way often took us through the impossible, that it often created paths through the worst terrain, and that we came out stronger as closer to Him as a result. And because we know He’s done it before, we can know He’ll do it again.

Active remembering helps us trust God now and in the future because He’s always the same, and we can count on His consistency of character. We know He is just, that He will honor His promises, and that He forgives endlessly. Remembering helps us know how to live our everyday lives, how to treat people & how to live our lives focused on Him based on His instruction for doing so in Scripture.

DISCUSSION: How is active remembering evident in your life?

6 thoughts on “Active Remembering

  1. Just a quick thought on this topic. I am studying the OT and although written much later in Israel's history, Deuteronomy, Joshua and Judges give rise to why the Israelite nation stumbled so badly and were sent into exile – they stopped actively remembering their past. When we stop remembering we bring nothing with us into the future and are bound to stumble and fall, making the same mistakes over and over.

    • The OT gives us so many examples of not only the purpose for remembering but the desire if God for us to remember. And you\’re so right about it\’s importance for our futures.

  2. i want to remember so as to learn. i don't want to dwell there. I just talked with a lady whose past is atrocious and she is seeking to come out from underneath it. She is moving on but slowly. But also essential. Good thoughts Kari.
    My recent post Motives

    • Remembering is one major way we learn, or at least it should be. Unfortunately, it's happening less and less. Coming out from under a tough past makes remembering even more important, I think. My youngest is adopted and has a pretty rough past. We'll spend times remembering, the good and the bad, and then helping him to learn from his past but not be strictly defined by it. The sooner someone learns from their past, the better too. When we focus on what God has done to bring us out of whatever and to not so much focus on the whatever, I think it makes learning from the past and then living in and looking toward the future must simpler because we aren't weighed down so much. Thanks, Bill!

  3. My childhood pastor would often say that we were in trouble as a church if "our memories are greater than our vision." His point that we should celebrate and learn from the past, but that if we stayed in the past, God would not work through us in the present.

    It's important for me to go back and tell the story of my life and what God has done through it in order to fully be utilized by Him in the present. Without doing so, I don't think I would writing or leading a men's small group today.

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