My mind today is on my friend Cathy, who was one of the bravest and most stubbornly faith-filled women I’ve ever known. Cathy may have left here sooner than those of us who loved her would’ve allowed…but her short life was not shadowed over with a spirit of grumbling and complaining. She had a thing about Post-it notes, and she didn’t care one bit to litter her beautiful home with them. Scriptures, prayer requests, blessings to give thanks for, Cathy would have notes on mirrors, door frames, refrigerator, walls…wherever they’d stick. They were her deliberate effort to maintain a grateful heart, right thoughts in her memory and on her lips. It worked. I watched a woman fighting for her life who made room for jubilant thanksgiving and praise of her God, and it humbled me. It made my petty groanings seem a lot less significant when she’d say of her own major obstacles, “Hardly nothing.” I’m trying to get a little less stingy with my Post-it notes; and because her friendship is one of those blessings I’m honored to remember, she is getting her own note on my wall. Today’s devotional doesn’t start out on a sad note at all…I’m just integrating a bit of very important nostalgia to support the idea of remembering one’s blessings.
The reason why God established the feast days for the children of Israel is to help them remember. You might ask, “How could anyone forget miracles like watching the parting of the Red Sea…or the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt…or the passing by of the angel of death?” Don’t be too quick to judge! If you do not consciously make room in your life for thanksgiving, celebration, and remembrance, you too will forget your miracles when faced with another mountain. Why, we do it all the time…but for the grace of God and the Holy Spirit jogging our memory, we’d become plumb full of ingratitude, forgetfulness, complaining, wishing for what we don’t already have, bitterly living in the past, coveting other people’s blessings.
You are looking at a bill in this morning’s mail that you have no earthly idea how you’ll pay…but shift your focus back to the last time God sent provision right when you needed it. The medical report the doctor’s office just gave you is not at all what you were wanting to hear…but don’t be overwhelmed by today’s trouble when there’s a memory of a previous healing begging to be unlocked. It’s practically screaming through the soundproof glass, “Wait! Wait, you forgot all about ME! Let me out of here and let’s talk!” Shut off the distresses of the moment, right now. If but only in your mind, place them in a tucker tote and put them in a corner out of your way. You can still deal with them, but for the moment, set them aside. It sounds elementary I know, but please don’t be insulted by the simplicity of what I’m going to suggest next–I’m not downplaying your serious needs. Get a piece of paper and begin to list some things from the past which God did for you “in the nick of time.” Add to that list the blessings you already have. You might have to press through pain to get there, but list what’s good. If your left leg’s hurting, praise Him that your right leg isn’t.
There’s an old hymn that says “I can take you to the time, I can take you to the place, where the Lord saved me, by His wonderful grace.” A major weapon of spiritual warfare is that determination to remember the victories. Maybe you don’t remember the exact date or place when something happened…write it down anyway. It will be the testimony that begins with, “There was that time when______.” It will be no less powerful! God’s not like an angry spouse who’s upset that you forgot the anniversary…His reasoning for you setting that time to remember is more for YOUR benefit than His. Anyway, make that list. If you know specific days on the calendar, find some way to commemorate them. Jot them in the margins of your Bible, or Post-it notes on the cork board, whatever. We mark everything else on our calendar from mortgage due dates to doctor appointments…make some room for good things! Whenever May 22 rolls around again and you’ve got even a small story of thankfulness that coincides with that date, make an all-out celebration of it. Today, you might say to others, marks 17 years since the doctor gave me six months to live! Next Thursday marks 2 years when God saved us from losing our business. Or, I’ll always rejoice in April because that’s when I got a letter of acceptance to a university that by all human reasoning, I shouldn’t have been able to attend. Or, it was on a New Year’s Eve 30 years ago when such-and-such relative tried to take his own life, but God spared him. I can’t tell your stories because I don’t know them all, but if you’ll sweep today’s troubling circumstances to the side for just a bit, you have some incredible victories you NEED to relive. You need the strength from those memories to inspire you to forge ahead in today’s trials.
Yes, you need to make a big deal of these things. Who cares if someone else doesn’t want to have a party with you? You have a party with God! Recently, Dana and I started a journal of blessings. Oh, we might not post to it every day, but we’ve gotten into the practice of talking about blessings at night before we go to sleep, and he has me jot them down. Sometimes I go back through and read a few entries. It might be a major healing, or it might be thanks that God helped me to change a faucet under our sink without it leaking. On either end of the wow spectrum, these blessings are worth remembering and giving thanks for all over again!
What has He done for YOU–past or present–that’s worth a celebration? It’s time to put on the garment of praise and ditch that spirit of heaviness! Grab the calendar, grab the pad of sticky notes, and encourage yourself in the Lord. He’s worthy of praise, and His loving kindness is so worth the remembrance.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” –Psalm 103:2-5