“Take care lest you forget …”
Several times in Deuteronomy the Lord speaks these words to the Israelites. He knew their hearts could easily be distracted from all He had done for them— things like, rescuing them from their bondage in Egypt, splitting the Red Sea, providing them manna and quail in the wilderness, sand guiding them to the Promised Land.
Can you imagine forgetting to remember those things? Letting the mundane of life sweep aside the powerful ways God had delivered you? Seeking fulfillment in what you can do rather than the God who has done so much?
Oh wait. If I’m honest, I am guilty of those very things.
My daily routines and the unexpected crises that arise shift my focus from God—even when I have my quiet time.
Accomplishment becomes my goal—and I find myself worshiping the checked off to do list instead of the Lord.
The list of ways I forget to remember is far longer than I’d ever want you to know. It happens to me every day. But I imagine if you are still reading, it happens to you frequently as well.
How do we remember to remember?
I look at the ways God told the Israelites to remember His mighty works and great love—and then apply the concepts to my own life. Usually the instructions of God fell into two categories: markers and feasts.
Often God told the Israelites to set up a marker to remember. One of my favorites is when the Hebrews crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land. While the Levites held the Ark of the Covenant in the middle of the dried up Jordan, the people marched across to the place God had prepared for them. But as they did, God instructed each tribe to gather a large boulder and place them together in the place where the Ark was. When the walls of water fell, those rocks could be seen, an inescapable reminder of God’s provision.
That this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in the times to come, “What do those stones mean to you?” then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the Ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.
Those rocks from the bottom of the river never should have been seen. But they would now be visible as a testament of God’s faithfulness to His people.
Probably the most well-known of the feasts is Passover. Established by God before the Israelites departure from Egypt, we know this feast of remembrance was observed by Christ before His crucifixion. Every element of the Passover meal was a reminder to the Israelites of their bondage in Egypt.
You shall tell your son on that day, “It is because of what the Lord did for me when I am out of Egypt.” And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Law of the Lord shall be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this statute at is appointed time from year to year.
Feasts like the Passover were tangible reminders of the ways God had provided for, protected, and blessed His people—in both tangible and intangible ways.
What about us?
While I don’t believe we are required to keep the feasts and festivals of the Old Testament and it may be a little impractical to build huge monuments in the places where God has delivered us, we are still in need of reminders “lest we forget.”
During November, we focus on gratitude. Our social media feeds will be full of people sharing the things and people for which they are thankful. And that’s important. And I love it.
But what about in our homes?
Our traditions are one of the most powerful ways we communicate to our children what is important to us. Those things we do year after year embed themselves deep into our children’s hearts. And while I love our Thanksgiving stocking tradition and I know Casiday will want to do the same with her children someday, I hope she also recognizes the value of our other Thanksgiving traditions. I hope she remembers sharing dinner at the table with grandparents, cousins, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles. I hope the recounting of what we are thankful for before we eat is embedded into her heart, a marker and a feast woven into one.
As you look ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas, think about the traditions your family has and what they communicate to your children. Be intentional about making gratitude a part of your festivities—and of your daily lives.
Whether you make an elaborate gratitude tree or simply go around the table before you eat (or anything in between), make sure your Thanksgiving includes time for giving thanks.