Age catches up to you at some point, and it tends to start in the mind. Although, I might say my brain has been “old” for quite some time. You’ll understand if you’ve ever walked into a room to say something to your spouse and the only thing on your mind when you get there is a blank white screen. Or perhaps you’ve searched everywhere for those sunglasses only to give up and see in the mirror that they are on your head. If these were the only things forgotten we would be in good shape. Sadly, we forget far more important things.
As I’m reading through the Old Testament again, I am amazed at how often and how quickly the people of God forget the great works He has done. I’m shocked at how they go directly against the Law just handed to them only to look to God as if to say, “What did I do wrong?” Yet, I do not look upon my spiritual ancestors in a condescending manner. On the contrary, I see my face in the crowd.
In Deuteronomy 11:18, God has commanded that His people fix His words on their hearts, but He also give them imagery to illustrate what He means. He says, “tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” In the ancient world, they understood that God was telling them to do whatever was necessary for them to remember and live out His commands as obedient children. Eventually, this developed into a literal reading.
You may have seen pictures of Jewish people with tefillin or phylacteries which are little boxes strapped to their hands and foreheads with Scriptures such as Deuteronomy 11 rolled up inside. On one hand (pun intended), I think going to the literal extreme might do me a world of good. On the other hand, there may be some more personally relevant ways to remember the Lord.
When I was young, it wasn’t uncommon for people to actually tie a string around their finger to remember what they needed to do or get from the grocery store. I tried it a couple of times. When I got to where I was going, I figured I must have wanted to buy string, though I didn’t know for what purpose. We would all do well to find what works best to help our families and us remember, be they little black boxes or finger strings.
We might consider hanging Scripture to the walls of our homes or another visible place. I have Psalm 127:1 memorized because it hung in the bathroom just across from the commode (no more detailed needed there). My wife’s grandmother puts little Post-It notes around the kitchen sink that have the Scriptures she wants to memorize and remember in front of her where she spends countless hours preparing and caring for her family, friends, and other passers-by. Some companies produce rather elaborate artistic pieces with Scripture on them to place in your home. The important thing to keep in mind is that you display prominently what you want you and your family to reflect on the most.
I remember how popular the little bracelets were that had either the colored beads to share the gospel or the letters W-W-J-D (What Would Jesus Do?) on them. It was something people could wear on their hands to keep in mind their commitment to God and their need to share the faith with those around them. My wife has been going through a study with a friend, and the concept of remembering has been impressed upon their hearts. As a token of friendship and remembrance, my wife received a lovely bracelet with a small charm that simply says “Remember.” On Sunday, several pre-teens and teens will be making a public commitment to a lifetime of sexual purity. Some of them will have received a ring or some other gift to help them remember their commitment to God, their family, and their future spouse. Again, the idea is to find something you can keep with you and will easily draw your attention back to the goodness and grace of God.
Consider some of the things you do to remember. We create videos, take pictures, scrapbook, journal, and collect things. We go to great lengths to remember our family history, incredible vacations and major transitions in life. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel on this one. Think about using the methods you are already in the habit of doing and dedicate some time to remembering God’s works and His Word. In fact, why not consider how the birth of a child, first day of school, vacations, graduations, and more can become spiritual markers in your life? Fix a word of Scripture to each event and write a prayer of praise to God.
We forget so many things, and we quickly forget the things of God. We really are no different than the wandering Hebrews. It needs to become a priority to remember. We have to be very intentional about it, and we may need to go to some extremes to make it a reality. Remembering the Lord is not only important for our lives and the lives of our immediate family, but how we choose to remember will affect generations to come. Whatever you do, find a way to highlight and glory in the greatness of out God.
What are some of your “finger strings”? Share your ideas in the comments below and help others just like you.