Wednesday, March 9, 2011

God Shapes Our Memories (Part 1)

Memories are part of God’s Divine plan. Do you believe that? And if memories are part of God’s plan…then to REMEMBER is not an option, it is a must.

You may disagree and say that some memories are better forgotten because they are too painful for us to remember. I will ask you this: If God had not included in the BIBLE the most painful act that had happened in History.. that of His own, blameless son dying on the cross for ours sins, then the BIBLE becomes just another ordinary book, and what would happen to us, ordinary people?

Yes, sometimes we choose to forget…but sometimes, we also JUST forget.

I know you experienced doing something and while you’re at it you remembered you need to get something from your room. So you went back to get that something… then, while you’re there, you completely forget what it was that you were going to get. So what do you do? You try to pace back and forth trying to remember what that thing was.

Yes, we can blame old age for memory loss but.. more often than not, it is our lack of discipline to remember things that make us forget. Watch this narration of Joshua 4.

In the story, God was building Israel’s memory. The crossing of the Jordan was the LANDMARK MEMORY of the Israelites' crossing from one leadership to another; from wilderness to the promised land. And God… wanted them to NOT FORGET IT.

And how did God make sure they don’t forget it?

1. God established and preserved leaders

In Joshua 1, God just commanded Joshua to lead the Israelites after Moses had died. Not only that but God made a clear command in verse 8:

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

God’s instructions were clear: I am putting you on post so  stick to the book. God was brewing victories for ISRAEL but the key player here was Joshua. His obedience to the Law greatly affected the memories that God had in store for the whole nation.

In our history as a Filipino people, we see how tour nation is shaped by the kind of leader we had. We’ve seen good leaders and the worst of their kind too. In school, we are told to NOT FORGET the more than 300 years of oppression by the Spaniards. 

In January our BLESS kids had a fieldtrip. We brought them to the city park, and we had our picture taken in front of Jose Rizal’s statue where he was portrayed as being held by a woman, whom we all refer to as Inang Bayan. It was hard to explain to the kids why a man who appears to be lame and dying is actually one of the most important men of our country. And he became so because HE STOOD UP among the crowd and  lead us out of oppression. And you know what, he was one who understood and acknowledge the power and the Supreme authority of God.

In a letter he wrote to Pastells while exiled in Dapitan, he wrote: We are entirely in accord in admitting the existence of God. How can I doubt his when I am convinced of mine… the God that I foreknow is far more grand, far more good: What books can better reveal to us the goodness of God, his love, his providence, his eternity, his glory, his wisdom? 'The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork'."

So today, we sing our own national anthem, we fly our own flag, we call Philippines our own country, we do not fear for our children’s future knowing that freedom is theirs to pursue their dreams in this land we now claim our own…and it all started with a man who submitted himself under the glory of God.

God has assigned authority over us. Our government officials are our authorities. Our bosses are our authorities. Our parents are our authorities. Our pastors are our authorities. Remember, God shapes our memories through them. It is then our responsibility to always, always, raise them up in our prayers to the Lord.

*Reflections on Ravi Zacharias' sermon "God and Remembrance"

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