Hallelujah, I Live in Remembrance

A truth that has come to carry heavy weight in my heart recently is that as followers of Jesus, our lives are best lived in perpetual and constant remembrance.

Our scattered brains can barely concentrate on anything that’s not directly happening to us in the present tense. Searching our memories and trying to recollect emotions, ideas and events from the past is not an easy task, in fact, it takes willpower. But, a lot of things that God asks us to do are not natural for us, which is why He sent us His Holy Spirit to intercede for us when we are at the end of our rope. We are never asked to fight against our forgetfulness on our own. 

It is essential to remember lots of small things in day to day life like grocery lists and material for an exam or even bigger things like what you love about a person. In the same way, God calls us into a life of remembrance the moment we say yes to following Him, in the small promises and the big covenants.

Remembrance is spoken about in scripture on many different occasions and in many different contexts, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Deuteronomy 5:15 : “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” Even since the time of the Israelite’s enslavement in Egypt, God has told humans and demonstrated for the the importance of remembrance. Exodus 2:24 says “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.”  God Himself even practices remembrance (surely in a much different way than we have the need to), but there’s something about the intentionality of God in actively remembering His promises that is filled with love.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

One of the main roles that the Holy Spirit himself plays in our lives is to help us remember Jesus’ teachings and the things God has spoken. Every time a word from scripture or a promise that God has made to us pops into our head, that is the Holy Spirit’s way of guiding us in truth. We can read as much scripture as we want, but walking in step with the Spirit yields fruit when we don’t just leave the truth we learned with our closed Bibles. It happens when we give the Spirit the freedom to remind us of those truths in everything that we see and do as we go about our days.

Throughout all of David’s life, remembrance is intricately woven into his life and his story.

David’s prayers and praises to God in Psalms have been recognized all over the world as beautiful and pure models for how we should pray today, which is why it’s important to note that remembrance is a huge part of his focus in many of the Psalms he wrote. Each time he catches himself forgetting a promise from the Lord, he immediately turns to remembering truth. Psalm 143:5 says “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.” (More examples from David and other Psalmists: Psalms 20, 42, 63, 77, 78, 105, and many more)

Here are some things that after searching scripture, I am convinced are important for followers of Jesus to constatly remember in pursuit of spiritual growth:

  1. Who God is. Almighty, loving, wonderful counselor, Redeemer, deliverer of justice, all-knowing, ever-present, beautiful beyond comprehension, the Great I Am. The beauty in this is that we can never stop learning more about who God is… the list of stunning character traits goes on and on into the depths of the sea and to the reaches of the farthest stars. Each time we gain even the smallest amount of new understanding of who God is, we delight our Father. Proverbs 3:13-14 : “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.”
  2. What Jesus did for us. “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me'” Luke 22:19. Jesus Himself told us how important it is to remember Him and His sacrifice on the cross, so much so that He gave us this beautiful sacrament to remember Him by. The greatest act of love that ever occurred in all of History, the willing sacrifice of the only perfect man who ever lived to save the world deserves to be remembered constantly throughout all generations. His death and resurrection changed absolutely everything, and is something that deserves to be at the forefront of our hearts and minds forever.
  3. Who God says we are. Since Jesus has interceded for us, God now sees us as redeemed, restored, loved, free, covered in grace, new creations, chosen, and commissioned when we put our trust in Him. This list doesn’t end there either. The more the Holy Spirit allows us to discover about who God is, the more this list grows as well. We must also remember that while we are still here on Earth we are perpetually imperfect and can’t measure up to God’s perfect standard on our own. It is just as important to remember our imperfection and our need for grace as it is to remember our freedom.
  4. What God delivered us from. Our personal stories and testimonies are some of the most encouraging ways we can remember how God has been faithful in our lives to spur us on to pour into othersBy remembering my story and pondering the way in which God reached from His deep into my deep to deliver me from the death that I was living in, I am so encouraged by the fact that He is unstoppable and can bring even the most hardened souls like mind back to Him. We become increasingly confident in God’s redemptive abilities the more we remember the big and little ways that He has worked in and around us.
  5. Who God made us to be. We were meant to be in perfect fellowship and Communion with Him, beloved servants, heavenly things, blameless in His sight, completely satisfied. We were made for heaven. Whenever we forget God’s promises and try to find our satisfaction in ANYTHING on earth, we are settling for less than heaven and a lesser identity than who God made us to be. This is why we remember… in pursuit of heaven as we become more like Jesus.
  6. What He has called us to do. The beautiful truth about this one is that as we grow in our remembrance of the other ones, this becomes easier and easier. Out of knowing who we are in Christ and all that He has done for us, answering our calling to the Great Commission becomes natural. It’s when we forget God’s promises that evangelism becomes hard. I will be the first to admit that I am completely guilty of this, just as we all are at times, which is what makes sharing our faith with others so hard. The moment we lean into our own identity and what others think about us rather than our identity in Christ and Christ alone, sharing Jesus with others seems forced and difficult. But when we remember truth with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are showered with the most lovely peace and by the grace of God, we learn how to walk in confidence. Hallelujah, what a gift!

My prayer now and for all of my life, for myself and for all followers of Jesus across the world, is that by grace we would learn to walk in remembrance.

“As far as heights reach from the depths
As far as east is from the west
So far Your grace has carried me
//
If ever I should lose my way
If ever I deny Your grace
Remind me of the price You paid
Hallelujah
I’ll live in remembrance”
(Remembrance, Hillsong Worship)

 

 

 

What God Has Been Teaching Me Overseas

For the last 3 weeks, I have been in Northern Ireland on a mission trip working to share Jesus with university students.

It has been hard work and very dry at times, with many students who are apathetic towards the gospel or were hurt by the church in their upbringing. Despite the difficulties, God is moving here. He has been moving in the curious eyes of the students as I tell them who Jesus is to me, He has been moving in my teammates conversations as they earn students’ trust and open doors, and He has even been moving in our hearts as we climb up the rocky cliffs on the North coast and experience His mysterious love and beauty in new ways. So in so many ways, there has been nothing unsuccessful about this trip… every encounter we have with Jesus allow others to have is a miracle.

Thankfully, God’s greatest teaching moments happen when our faith is stretched. So of course, God has been teaching me an abundance of new truths over the course of these past several weeks, and my hope is that He will continue to do so over my last couple weeks here.

  1. Seasons of famine make room for abundance of blessings.

    No matter what kind of famine we’re talking about (whether it’s wandering in the wilderness for years and years like the Israelites or a long season of waiting or wandering around campus for hours not finding students to talk to), each blessing we receive, no matter how small, has a really special sweetness like water after days of being paralyzed with thirst. There is something so glorious about those moments, when in our desperation we receive grace upon grace. Many times, these small blessings are taken for granted, even overlooked, when we receive them during a season of abundance. How sweet it is to realize that the small things had been blessing from the Lord after all and for the thankfulness capacity in our hearts to grow. I’m finally learning to let the cool breeze on my face and the little whispers of the Holy Spirit bring me to singing.

  2. Eternal life is lived in the present.

    You know those truths that you hear for the first time and it hits you so hard it’s all you can think about for days? This is definitely one of those for me. I have heard this statement before, but I heard it with fresh ears last week and haven’t shaken it ever since. We are living as much in eternal life now as we will be when we are in perfect, sinless and sorrow-less fellowship with our Lord one day. Although my sin causes me to turn my back on God daily, He never departs from me… He is so present, just as He will be when we finally experience His glory in fullness. As I move houses again and again and feel restless and even homeless at times, this truth has been SUCH an encouragement to me. Of course I don’t feel at home anywhere! My true and permanent home is already being built so lovingly and with such care by my Father.

  3. I am still called worthy, even when I forget God’s promises.

    Evangelism can be really, really hard. When wandering around for hours, trying to muster up the willpower and strength (when I should probably just be leaning into the Holy Spirit) to engage in a deep spiritual conversation with someone you’ve never met before, you learn what spiritual exhaustion feels like. And then Satan attacks, in all of his cunning temptation, hitting you in all of your weak-spots at once because he knows well that God is on the brink of a breakthrough and will do everything he can to stop it. I have wondered often why God would choose someone like me, who is uncomfortable with and doesn’t really like talking to strangers, is timid and whose greatest sinful fear is rejection, and has physical disabilities to serve Him in this way. Sure, maybe this type of evangelism isn’t my lifetime calling. But it is for now, and God has every intention of using me to grow His kingdom and plant seeds. The times when I forget God’s eternal promises and focus on my present fears and emotions never have and never will disqualify me from ministry. Romans 9:22-23 “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”

Throughout my time here, I have been praising God for the sustenance I have found in His beauty.

The Lord, the supplier of all things good and beautiful, knows exactly what we need when we need it. It’s sweet to know that He knows us so intimately that He knows just what causes us to sing hallelujah, and for me that’s all things visually beautiful. I see God’s heart so clearly in the cliffs and green grass and flowers growing in hard places and the turquoise water crashing onto the shores of Northern Ireland. God knew exactly what He was doing when He placed me here, and I know that not only through the encouraging and intentional conversations I’ve been able to have with Northern Irish students, but also in the extravagant physical beauty in this place that leaves me stunned by His glory. His heart for us is as relentless as the waves which mysteriously carve the rocks at the Giant’s Causeway.

Beckoned to Behold

1,069.

This is how many times, in the ESV alone, the word “behold” appears in the Bible.But here’s the thing: I have yet to find a place in which it is completely grammatically necessary for it to be used. A quick case study:

 

original: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31a —- without behold: “And God saw everything that he had made and it was very good.”

original: “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.” Psalm 54:4 —–without behold: “God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.”

The list goes on and on (1,069 times, to be exact). Although it’s easy to skim over the word whenever we encounter it for that very reason, we also know that God is intentional… His words are not in vain; Not even a word like behold, that we don’t exactly tend to throw around in our daily conversation.

 

And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” Revelation 21:5

God urges us to behold this amazing truth while He reminds us that the scriptures are His words and they are trustworthy and true in the very same verse! But regardless of this interesting overlap, in this verse God gives us this beautiful mental picture of Him speaking each word to the writer and assuring him that the words are His, and that they overflow with truth. Divine authorship does’t exclude words that we overlook due to our fleeting attention span, and our fleeting attention span is the exact reason we NEED to behold.

 

The word behold is used in a unique way all throughout the Bible. Many times, it could easily be replaced with “look!”, and it would still fulfill the same grammatical usage. But it’s not, and there is a key difference here: “Behold” is a beckoning to linger, an urging to admire, survey and appreciate… the command “to look” only demands the necessity of a fleeting glance. The dictionary puts it this way: “We see, distinctly or confusedly. We look at, near, or at a distance. We behold, with wonder and attention. We view, with care and exactness.” God doesn’t call us to “take a glance” at what He’s doing… His majesty displayed in His word deserves our wonder and attention. His beauty doesn’t require an audience, but He knows that our captivation leads to our sanctification… so He beckons us to behold. Every time we behold His promises in scripture and allow them to sweep us off our feet, God draws us nearer to Himself.

 

But here’s the problem, our society doesn’t encourage beholding. Humans are fast paced creatures with the inability to even lock eyes with someone for more than a few fleeting seconds without becoming tired or uncomfortable. Things become mundane to us because our sinful eyes and hearts are restless. But the Bible encourages us to look at the world differently… and to behold how everything in creation cries out to God like the rocks cry out in silence (Luke 19:40). I believe that many of my problems and sins… the desire to control my life, my selfishness, pride, and fear, can many times be because I struggle to behold God rightfully. Job was pressed with an immensity of trials, more than most of us will ever experience. But each time he was mocked, questioned, or questioning God, we are also shown how he fights defeat: by reflecting upon and beholding God’s character.  This is our calling.

 

Don’t miss it, God faithfully uses the word behold before revealing some of His greatest masterpieces! He knows that our fickle hearts struggle to see the marvelous glory that he reveals about Himself in the ordinary and extraordinary objects of life. He clothes the lilies in splendor, He springs forth redwood trees from seeds that we can hold on our fingertips, He handcrafts the light that flickers through the trees in the morning and bounces off our windowpanes at night… and He intricately and perfectly planned to save ordinary, broken people like us to hold His treasure. Nothing in my sinful nature wants me to see and experience these wonders, but God sent His spirit to us for this very reason: to help us behold Him and His hand in our lives so that we can press on in faith.

 

These glimpses are just small glimmering fragments of the promise that one day, the fog will be lifted and God’s glory will be revealed to us in fullness. When we behold Him as our vision, how could our hearts not well up with excitement and overflow in worship?

 

Job 36:24-28 

“Remember to extol his work,
    of which men have sung.
All mankind has looked on it;
    man beholds it from afar.
Behold, God is great, and we know him not;
    the number of his years is unsearchable.
For he draws up the drops of water;
    they distill his mist in rain,
 which the skies pour down
    and drop on mankind abundantly.”

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The joy of allowing Jesus to reign where pride once resided

“I’m an artist.”

Recently, I’ve been reading the book Embracing Obscurity and wow have I needed to hear all that this gifted anonymous author has to say…

“In an attempt to be a somebody, have you—like me and so many others—adopted an impressive subtitle?”

I had no idea at the time that I read this line out of the book, but “artist” has been my self-appointed subtitle for the past 20 years. Why couldn’t I see? Pride blinds. It builds itself up like the tides rise, and we don’t notice until we are in up to our necks and we are literally FORCED to cry out to God… because the prospect of drowning is near.

This pretty much encapsulates the past several months of my life. I took a leap of faith, applied to the design school at my university, and waited. I have never been told “no” when it comes to my artwork. This wasn’t something that I went around bragging about, yet the tides were rising. Every time I received an acceptance letter, an award, approving looks from people admiring “my work”… even as people complimented me on my humility, my pride swelled. Each “yes” I received was building this unspoken and unrealized belief in my heart that nobody could tell me “no”. Until they did.

When God choses to break our pride, it hurts. But it’s with every intention of establishing his kingdom in our hearts that He does so… and wow is that worth it.

Experiencing rejection in an area of my life where I firmly believed I couldn’t experience it, hurt. A lot. And so with receiving the “we regret to inform you” letter, I mourned the loss of the direct path that I had constructed for my life, the loss of my comfort, and the loss my subtitle. But by grace, God shows up in mighty ways in our seasons of mourning, and my unknown pride HAD to be exposed for me to allow Christ to reign where pride once resided.

“In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” Psalm 10:4

Uplifting stuff, right? The truth is, sometimes what we really need isn’t to be uplifted. Walking with God is about allowing Him to enter into our dark areas and to shine light so brightly into them that although we are uncomfortably exposed for a moment, we are eternally changed. THAT is sanctification.

I believe that God is in the business of wrecking our plans to establish the greater ones that He holds. Although people who are familiar with the Bible or know a lot of people who are might think that Jeremiah 29:11 is a little over-used, I urge you to allow God to use it to breathe new life into your situation.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

God didn’t need to tell us this. His greatness is unchanging regardless of whether we believe it or not. But He loves us enough to offer us this word of comfort when we don’t know our forwards from our backwards, or are drowning in the depth of our pride up to our necks. Each little insight that God has given me into His plan for me since I received my “bad news” has been by grace and grace alone.

We can cement our hope in the almighty and sovereign character of God that this verse displays, knowing that by doing so, we find a TRUE source of security. Every insecurity we experience is a result of placing our identity in the wrong place (ourselves). I know this too well. Instead, we must become nothing in light of God’s everything (from Embracing Obscurity).

Counting on yourself, and ultimately on pride, to carry you through is like building on sinking sand. Friends, lay your foundations in His splendor and rest assured that His love won’t let you crumble.

 Isaiah 54:10-11

“For the mountains may depart
    and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
    and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

 O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,
    behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
    and lay your foundations with sapphires.”