It’s interesting to me how quickly as humans we forget. While some are better at remembering things than others, we all have a tendency to forget a large amount of information. Even though our brains are advanced computers that have the ability to remember and recall even specific details about events that happened years ago it seems that there are times when all of the different connections in the brain are not as strong as they should be and details get lost, pushed aside into some long forgotten corner of our memories. Sometimes we remember them later, when it hits us that we forgot to finish the presentation for work or we forgot to go by the store and pick up the extra ingredients we needed for dinner, however, often we forget forever and the information or thought is lost never to be recovered.
God seemed to understand this problem with the human brain and so in the midst of his discussions about the Law he added an interesting reminder for the people in Numbers 15.
The Lord said to Moses,“Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God.” (Numbers 15:37-41)
God speaks to the people of Israel and purposely gives them reminders, things in their lives to remind them of their relationship, of the covenant that they have agreed to, of the place that Yahweh is to hold in their lives. God tells them to put tassels on the edges of their cloths, not as a sign of fashion, but as a reminder. “It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember…” God, knowing that they would forget, that life would get busy, that other really important things would begin to command their attention, found a way to draw their minds back to God, back to Yahweh, back to the Lord who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. God, knowing how important it was to not forget, commanded them to put tassels on their clothes to remind them that they served a God and followed a God who demanded their allegiance. It’s interesting because the tassels by themselves were not memorable. They did not stand out, and most of the time they were probably so inconspicuous that they blended into the surrounding outfit that they were rarely noticed. And yet, there were times when they stuck out, times when they drew the mind back to God, times when they reminded everyone around, and especially the one who was wearing them, that total allegiance belonged to Yahweh God and no other. And because of that they were important, they were valuable, they were needed.
When I think about life today I realize we have the same problem. We get busy with life, busy with demands, busy with really important things, so busy that it becomes easy to forget what is most important. It becomes easy to forget the one thing that should never be forgotten, that God is most important. Or maybe it is not that we forget, but that we allow other things to take the place of God, other things to command our attention. In order to keep that from happening, we need reminders, we need things in our lives to draw our minds back to God. What is it in our lives that reminds us of God? We don’t wear tassels on our clothes anymore as a remembrance but we still need to have reminders. What are we going to use to remind us of God? When I was young it was a small yellow and brow magnet that hung on the refrigerator door and quoted Joshua 24:15, “Choose this day whom you will serve, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” I have no idea when we acquired this magnet, but it was sometime when I was young. My parents never made a big deal out of it, it just hung on the refrigerator, always hung on the refrigerator. By the time I was graduating high school the art work was so outdated on it that it stuck out like a sore thumb and begged to be put in a box or thrown away because it was so tacky compared to modern design, and yet it hung. It hung as a reminder that our family was going to serve God. It hung as a reminder that no matter what happened we were not turning our backs on God. It hung as a reminder, that even during difficult times, like a parent’s job loss when I was seven or my father’s heart attack when I was twelve, we were not going to abandon God, we were not going to change from serving the Lord. It hung as a silent reminder to me that serving God was important to my family, in fact it was the most important thing to my family, and it was something we could rely on, a pillar that would never change.
As I raise my young girls, as I try to lead my family, what things am I doing to help my family remember God? What modern day tassels am I raising for my girls, or my wife, or even myself to look at and remember the God we serve? What daily reminders are around me to point me back to the one constant in life? What will we use as a family, as a people, as a community to remember God, to remember his commands, to remember his great deeds on our behalf? We have to do something, it’s too important of information to forget. What will be our reminder?