I have this crazy habit of waking up in the middle of the night and remembering things that either I was supposed to do the day before, or things on the schedule for later in the day. To make matters worse, I then think about these tasks, afraid that I will forget about them, for so long that I end up staring at the ceiling wide awake over something that I couldn’t possibly do at this moment anyway. It’s a horrible habit. However, I’ve found that when these moments come, if I will quickly place a reminder on my phone, I can drift back to sleep in peace trusting my phone to remind me during daylight hours.
I actually have many reminders in my life. I set reminders for doctors appointments, important meetings, and dates of when to cancel subscriptions. I put pictures in my office to remind me of favorite events or happy memories. I leave notes to remind myself to do things that go against my normal routine; such as not eating breakfast on days I have blood work or remembering to take my wife’s vehicle instead of my own because I need to get the tire replaced. I’ll admit that some of these activities I would remember with or without the notes, but there are definitely times when the note becomes the reminder I needed to do what I had planned to do instead of life just going on autopilot.
The Old Testament is full of reminders for Israel. As Israel prepares to leave Egypt after the ten plagues, God not only commands Israel to kill a lamb, spread the blood on the doorpost, and partake of the first Passover meal, but God also commands them to keep this festival in years to come. When Israel crosses the Jordan River into the promised land, Joshua commands the tribes to pick up twelve stones and set up a monument to remind Israel that God dried up the waters of the Jordan to allow Israel to cross over. Later, in the time of Esther, Purim is initiated to remind Israel of God’s deliverance from the impending destruction brought about by Mordecai. Israel is continually given reminders to remember the deeds of the Lord with annual celebrations.
God’s commands to create reminders for the people have various purposes, but one purpose is clearly that reminders are a way to combat our own forgetfulness. Humans have a tendency to forget. Whether this is inherent in our DNA or just the result of busyness in life, we all have a tendency to forget. We get so focused on day-to-day living that we either forget to focus on the big things of life, or we get so consumed with the stress of everyday life that we lose focus of the powerful good deeds that God has done, and is doing.
Consider the command to keep the Passover meal. Every year, Israel was commanded to stop what they were doing and participate in a very intentional evening of remembering God’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Every year, Israel was transported back to that moment, when the slaves walked out free, and in so doing, experienced God’s deliverance first hand. This yearly memorial was a way to stop normal life and be reminded that God has delivered in the past; and to be convicted that God can deliver in the future. It served as a reorienting point for Israel, as individuals lost focus because of busyness or stress, the meal brought them back to what was most important; we are apart of the story of God’s redemption of the world.
We need those reminders today. Just as I write notes to remind myself of simple tasks, I need to intentionally set up reminders in my life to help me refocus or to cause reorientation. Just as I look at pictures to remind me of family memories, I need to have pictures that remind me of God’s presence in my life. Just as I buy souvenirs on vacations to remind me of the experience, I need to invest in “souvenirs” that remind me of God’s power.
This will not happen unless we are intentional about it. Reminders do not naturally occur, they have been intentionally created by someone who wants to remember. Intentionally create some reminders today of God’s presence in your life, and place them around you in order to refocus you on what is most important.