by Bev Hawkins
“Only be careful for yourself and watch over your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb…. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb.” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10a, 5:2, NASB)
Most of us celebrate anniversaries (a “yearly returning”), whether it be our birthday, a FaceBook friendiversary, or the date of our conversion. Some anniversaries are happy occasions, others (like the death of a loved one) are sad. Like most married couples, my husband and I celebrate our wedding anniversary each year, the day we made a covenant to love, cherish and honor each other “till death do us part.” Why do we go through this ritual? Is it just a good excuse to splurge on a nice dinner out or a weekend get-away? Or is there something deeper?
I confess that in day-to-day, ordinary life it is all too easy for me to focus on the annoying quirks and habits of my spouse, rather than to notice all the good things he does and his many laudable character traits. Anniversaries are valuable as we set aside the daily grind to remember our courtship, remember our wedding day, remember the things that drew us together all those years ago. Remembering takes me past the duty of married life to the desire, past the shoulds and oughts to the relationship and the love.
God has been impressing this word – remember – on my heart recently. It strikes me that it is so often repeated in Deuteronomy; a relational, covenantal word showing up in what is normally considered a book of laws. It points me to a God who desires relationship with us more than even our law-following. When I read, “Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb…The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb” I picture a glowing bride eagerly committing herself to the One she loves. When I read (in later chapters), “Remember the Sabbath” I hear God inviting His people on an anniversary date (which we apparently need more than once a year).
I am finding (even more so as I age) that forgetting is more natural than remembering. When I am spiritually forgetful, I tend to veer into legalistic behaviors and seeking God’s approval through performance. Spiritual remembering takes effort and intentionality, but when I manage to do it, it is so helpful in deepening that covenant relationship with the Lord. It takes me back to the fervency of that “first love,” it strengthens my resolve to stay close to God’s design for life, it bolsters my faith to face the challenges of life.
God urges us, “Remember the Lord your God, who keeps His covenant to a thousand generations!” Though we at times are faltering and forgetful, our God is faithful and will not forget or forsake His covenant with us!
- What special anniversaries do you observe? What are you remembering at that time?
- “Remember the day you stood before the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 4:10) Do you remember when you first met the Lord? What was it like? How have you grown in love with Him since that day?
- “And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you.” (Deuteronomy 8:2) Spend a few minutes (or longer if you wish) reviewing God’s faithfulness to you—throughout your life, or through the past season. Let this remembrance lead you to a time of worship.
- “And you are to remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you.” (Deuteronomy 15:15) When you remember your “life before God,” what is most surprising to you about where He has led you to today?