Thursday, July 10, 2008

Do You Remember The Time?

For those of you who are fans of Michael Jackson, this is not about the JAM that came out back in the early 90's, you know, the one with the video staring Eddie Murphy and Magic Johnson. Egyptian setting. Classic. Simply classic.

But that JAM and the phrase bring up the point about memories. They serve such a vital role in recalling how our lives have been shaped, the relationships that have formed, and the stories we now have to tell. Some of the best times I have with friends are actually when we sit around and talk about past experiences together. It is always fun to recall, as Michael Jackson put it in his song, "When we first met..."

I was reading Psalm 77 this morning and was struck by the very same theme of remembrance. Asaph is wrestling through a long night of crying out to God, struggling to be comforted by Him. The picture is very vivid as he writes, "In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints." As Asaph continues to struggle in remembering God he begins to ask some very frightening questions regarding God and His character:

  • Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?
  • Has His steadfast love forever ceased?
  • Are His promises at an end for all time?
  • Has God forgotten to be gracious?
  • Has He in anger shut up His compassion?
These are very similar questions to ones we ask on the whole, but probably more so as individuals who say they aren't experiencing God or connecting with Him like they want to be. Some of those are like:
  • Have You stopped caring about me?
  • Are You really there?
  • Have You forgotten about me?
  • If You are so loving, then...?
  • Are You out to get me?
  • Why are You so distant from me right now?
  • Are you ever going to hear my prayers?
So what did Asaph do during this time of asking many questions, questions that challenged the character of God? HE REMEMBERED!
"I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all Your work, and meditate on Your mighty deeds." (vv. 11-12)
Asaph remembered. He pondered and meditated on the truth of God's work already accomplished; in this particular instance it was the parting of the Red Sea, which was the great miracle that ultimately helped the Israelites be free from slavery to Egypt.

This to Asaph was key and is an enormous lesson for me and all of us to learn. When it seems that God is distant, not listening, angry, actively fighting against us, whatever--when I bring into question God's character--I must remember God's mightiest deed! For Asaph it was the Exodus; that marked Jewish remembrance. For us now it is Jesus Christ--His life, His death, His burial, His resurrection, His ascension! The Exodus gave the Israelites triumph over Egypt and assurance God was with them as they journeyed to the Holy Land. The Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us triumph over death and assurance of everlasting life with God in His Kingdom forever!

This is what He has done.
This I must remember.
This I must meditate on with fullness of joy--
His love,
His kindness,
His mercy,
His compassion,
His grace--
Because this is who our God is.

By His Grace.

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