I’m not a forgetful person; I think my memory is pretty good. But remembering facts and remembering truths is not the same thing. I’m trying to practice remembering and how the Bible teaches us to do it.
In this year, 2021, many of us who lived through the tragedy and horrors of 9/11 twenty years ago took time to remember where we were at that time.
I remember the morning of September 11, 2001. I was driving across north Texas on my way to a business meeting in Boulder, Colorado. My wife was out of the country in the Bahamas. And our children weren’t even born yet.
I remember clear blue skies over the American West that afternoon, no planes overhead since the airspace was cleared.
Now 20 years later, I have this memory of that day and yet the world is also different.
I went back and looked at my journal from that day, I read the entries from the weeks just before and after that event, noticed my concerns and where I was spiritually at the time.
The times were different.
I was certainly different.
What the Bible says about Remembering
What does the Bible teach us about remembering? The main Hebrew word for “remember” is zakar. It’s used over 300 times in the Hebrew Bible, and it has three different senses.
- Recall the facts – this is the same way we tend to remember. We recall the fact that something happened, or the facts about how it happened. This is simple recall. It’s probably the least common usage of “remember” in the Bible.
- Consider something, keep it in mind – this is a stronger use of “remember” that’s fairly common in the Hebrew Bible. You have to be more active in focusing on an event, thinking about what it means, not letting it disappear. You keep it in active memory. This use of “remember” is pretty similar to the biblical idea of meditation: you consider something, think about it actively, muse on its meaning for you.
- Think about and act in line – this third use is the strongest of all and probably the most common meaning in the Hebrew Bible. You recall and think about something and then act on it in the most appropriate way. If you’re not acting in line with the truth, you’ve forgotten or not really remembered what matters and what doesn’t. To remember is to act on the truth accordingly; to sin or be wicked is to forget the truth or forget God who created us and commands our loving embrace of what he’s revealed.
Don’t Forget to Remember!
How do I remember things rightly?
First, I have to get beyond just an accurate recall.
What God really cares about is whether I give thought to my actions, my attitude and my heart. Do I take action and live out the truth he has shown me? Do I live with a holy memory, immersed in the truths he has revealed?
If I don’t remember to do this, I’m actually asleep, living in forgetfulness of his grace, goodness and power. This is why we meditate and pray and encourage each other to really listen to his word. This is how we remember.
What is a truth you want to make a central part of your life?
How about writing it down in your journal and spending time each day this week reflecting on it (remembering it)?
Listen to God’s word regularly. If you want a prompt or some help on that, listen to our podcast. Put up messages in your room or space that help you center God’s truth. We have several ideas at our store that you might like.