The Virtue of Remembering- Luke 11:9, John 14:14, 1 John 1:9

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

COMMENTARY

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us

We have considered how God asks to remember the good things that He has done for others, and also the good things that He has done for us. By reflecting on these we find the hope to do new good works. But this is not all. God does not only invite us to remember what has been done, but also to reflect on what will be done.
God makes promises for our future, blessings to be delivered “then,” if we will prove faithful “now.” And they are very rich promises as well. He assures that we will gain understanding, that we will receive what we seek, and that we will be forgiven of our sins. By remembering just the promise of these things we are encouraged to live in such a way that one day we are remembering the fulfillment of them instead.

The Virtue of Remembering- Reflection #1

I want to pause for a moment to reflect on the lessons that we have already learned about remembering in the gospel. We have discussed how God invites us to remember the things he did for ancient saints, to encourage faith in us that He can do the same in our lives.

Thus, when we are called to stand up for what is right against great odds, we can be inspired by the story of Moses when he did the same. But, of course, when Moses went to seek freedom for his people from mighty Pharaoh, he did not have the example of Moses to rely on.

I think this is important. It means that each act of faith, even if inspired by those that went before, is still its own creation. Because after all, Moses didn’t give us an example exactly fitted to our experience, now did he? He may have stood up to Pharaoh, but he didn’t stand up to our boss, on this matter, on this day. So the past may inspire us to do today’s good, yet each new act of faith is a novel invention. It gives another reason to remain faithful tomorrow, though still leaves enough openness to tomorrow to for it to also have another novel invention of its own. There is a beautiful symmetry to this idea of looking back to the blessings of before, and being encouraged by them to reach for the blessings of today.

The Virtue of Remembering- Judges 6:12, 14, 17, 21-22, 25, 27

And the angel of the Lord appeared unto Gideon, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
And Gideon said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.

And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto Gideon, Throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:
Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the Lord had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.

COMMENTARY

The Lord is with thee. Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel: have not I sent thee?
Shew me a sign that thou talkest with me
The entire account of Gideon, in Judges chapters 6-8, is well worth studying for how it shows the man moving from one great act to another, in each step being motivated by the remembrance of the last. Today I have shared snippets just from the very foundation of his campaign.
Here we see God calling Gideon to free the Israelites, and Gideon asking for an assurance which is granted. A small miracle occurs, and it is enough to convince Gideon of his holy calling. The memory of that moment will be fundamental for him moving forward.

And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto Gideon, Throw down the altar of Baal
Then did as the Lord had said unto him: and because he feared his father’s household he could not do it by day, that he did it by night
That very same night, when the memory of the holy encounter would still be fresh in Gideon’s mind, the Lord gives Gideon his first test. Gideon is motivated enough to carry out the task, though he is also still weighed by the fear of the people. He performs the deed in the dead of night when none can witness it, but he does do it.
This, I believe is a turning point for Gideon. Now he does not only have the memory of the angelic visitation, he also has the recollection of he, himself, acting for good, even when it was hard to do.
God uses this same pattern numerous times throughout the scriptures. David faces a lion before Goliath, and Goliath before leading a nation. Abraham is commanded to sacrifice the home of his birth before sacrificing his son. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego hold to their principles of diet before holding to their principles in the furnace.
God is very wise in this pattern of initiating us through a small test of faith. It isn’t just about building up our confidence in Him, it is building our confidence in ourselves. When we reach our hardest times we are preserved by two memories:
1) God is good
2) And so am I

The Virtue of Remembering- John 14:26, Doctrine and Covenants 6:22-23

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?

COMMENTARY

The Holy Ghost, shall bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you
Did I not speak peace to your mind? What greater witness can you have?
We have seen how many of us begin our path of discipleship by remembering the good that God has done for others, and by that having hope that He will do the same for us. But this is not to be the end of our journey. Each one of us is meant to join the scriptural records with some personal accounts of our own.
Notice how Jesus left his disciples with the promise that they would be able to remember what he, himself, had said to them. All their lives they had had the story of Moses to reflect on, but that was not to be the only pillar of their faith any longer. Now they had their own personal experiences, words of the Savior spoken directly to them, to help sustain them as well.
Peter, James, John and the others had forefathers who had lived by the manna that was sent from heaven. But now Jesus was pointing out to them that they had a manna of their own to take courage from as well.
Each one of us must also come to see how God has nourished us directly, and then hold to the remembrance of that forever after.

The Virtue of Remembering- Hebrews 12:1, 2 Corinthians 3:12 (ESV)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold

COMMENTARY

Seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run the race before us
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold
Yesterday we considered how Paul inspired the Hebrew saints with the memory of all the miracles that had been done to their ancestors. Immediately after this is his statement from Hebrews 12, that all of these examples of the faithful ought to empower them to be faithful themselves.
Thus Paul used the stories of the Old Testament prophets to inspire those that were familiar with those legends, but to those that were not, such as the saints in Corinth, he instead recalled their own firsthand experience of gaining hope in the message of Christ, and tells them that such faith should make them bold. It is the same message as to the Hebrews, but it is rooted in a different set of memories.
The point is that each of us is given something to start remembering the goodness of God by. For some of us it might be the words of the scriptures that we learned in our youth, for others it is the example of good men and women who pointed us in the right direction, and for others it is the first time that God spoke directly into our hearts. Whatever it is, each of us have something to think back to that inspires us to do great things.

The Virtue of Remembering- Hebrews 11:3, 7, 11, 17, 24, 29-30, 32-34

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
By faith Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house.
Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed.
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac,
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down.
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

COMMENTARY

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God
By faith Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house
Hebrews 11 is a wonderful treatise on faith, and well worth an examination just for that. But today I actually wanted to take a step back, look at Paul’s methodology in the chapter as a whole, and glean what we can from his teaching style.
What Paul is doing through this entire sequence is reminding the saints about miracles that have already occurred, even ones that occurred anciently and are only known because of the scriptural record that was kept of them.
Which I do believe is one of the exact reasons why God has kept and preserved the scriptures: so that we can be reminded of the good that He has already done, and thus feel empowered to ask Him to do new good works in us.
Which is exactly where most of us begin our path of discipleship. We didn’t have our own miracles to reflect on, so we had to reflect on the miracles of others instead. If He did all this for Noah, Sara, Abraham, Moses, and the Israelites, if He did all this for our pastor, our family member, our friend…then why not us as well?
Paul understands that reflecting on these stories, even though they are not our own, will still generate greater faith in our hearts, which leads us to take our own leaps of faith, which finally allows us to have our own miracles to recall.

The Virtue of Remembering- Personal Example

At the start of this month I shared a personal goal for myself: to cut down on my use of media and entertainment. Now when I first made that commitment to myself I was thoroughly convinced on it. I knew that it was the right thing to do and I was actually excited to get started.

The next day I started to wonder if I had made a terrible mistake.

Of course, all the reasons to make this transformation in my life were still valid, but I just couldn’t make myself care about them anymore. In fact, it wasn’t long before I caught myself breaking my commitment, and not even maliciously, I had simply forgotten about the things that had once seemed so important.

Children of God are like this. We have real moments of grandeur where we sincerely want all that is good…followed by a long reversion back into our default “meh” state.

Now with my personal example, once I started thinking again about what my commitment had been and why I had made it, some of that old fire started to rekindle. It really felt like blowing on the coals, bit-by-bit getting the heat back into them until they could ignite again.

As such I’ve instituted a regular “blowing on the coals” practice into my day. Every couple hours an alarm goes off on my phone, reminding me to recite back my commitments and the reasons for why I am doing them. (Yes, the irony of using an alarm on my phone to remind me to not use digital media is not lost on me!)

I hope that in time I will learn to be a better rememberer. But even if I do, I suspect I will always require a time of refreshing, recommitting, and renewing. It is okay that we forget, we just have to be sure, then, to remind ourselves.