The Art of Remembering – Part 1

Just to let you know at the outset, I want to flesh out this idea – the art of remembering – over a series of articles. Many powerful words exist in the Bible that have profound spiritual significance. I do not want to minimize any of those at all, but at the same time I want to spend some time with the word “remember.” This word first jumped out at me when preparing to preach a sermon on the Revelation 2 section about Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen.” More than a decade later, I remember what struck me about this (I know – bad use of the language).

In my earlier days of walking with the Lord, the art of remembering helped me bring God’s workings in the past to bear on my present and future. Not remembering got me in trouble. I will expound on this more as we move along. Now, remembering is helping to rekindle a passion for our Lord deep within my soul.

I don’t want to spend much time on word definition, but suffice it to say that to remember is more than a mental exercise. The mental aspect is important. Ask those who have suffered from amnesia, Alzheimer’s or just plain forgetfulness. Yet to remember in the biblical sense is not only to recollect something in the mind. It is also an action on behalf of the object of the memory. So when Jesus says to “Remember therefore from where you have fallen,” he is imploring us to recall to our mind those heights on which we previously walked, but also to act on the basis of those memories. He continues in the next lines to implore his hearers to repent and to repeat earlier spiritual disciplines.

The penitent thief on the cross next to Jesus cried out, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” It was not a cry for mental recollection, but a cry for action. Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Jesus remembered him by acting on his behalf. As a child we would sing the song, “Do Lord, oh, do Lord remember me.” Jesus remembers me by acting on my behalf. WOW!

In future articles, I will try to describe more of how we can practice the art of remembering like Jesus did for the thief and for me.