The other day I was walking through a department store and passed a large display for Levi’s Silver Tab jeans. I heard rumblings that 90s fashion was en vogue again, but here was proof positive. This is coming on the heels of the 80s revival in apparel that happened so recently, it’s still not over.
Nostalgia can be addictive. I’m a sucker for the clickbait pieces featuring toys from the 80s. I want to see how many I can remember or which ones I completely forgot about. While most of my life travels at a seemingly maxed-out speed, there is something often alluring in the past, a harkening of a simpler, slower time.
Sometimes the remembering feels like a healthy wander through the quiet recesses of my mind. I think of treasured, sweet times with family members who have passed away. I think of times I’ve belly laughed with my bestie or shared an admiring glance with my husband over our kiddos.
Other times, the looking back can feel more like a treacherous expedition, turning over the proverbial mental rocks that ought not to be disturbed. Scenes from my youth that I recall with a strange kind of fondness, though I know I was acting in my flesh and not the Spirit. I recall comebacks that flew from my mouth with enough sting to wound but I find myself, even today, admiring the wit and timing. These tantalizing memories feel like a fire I should keep my distance from. And yet, I inch closer.
As I stumble around mentally, confused at the contrast of mementos, I look to Scripture to help me navigate the tangle. Unsurprisingly, the Lord offers clarity in the mess concerning what I should be remembering.
Remember God Is the Author of Salvation
“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deut. 5:15). God wants us to remember what He saved us from; not necessarily all the sordid details (we’ll address that soon), but that we were someone lost and burdened with sin before Christ changed our lives. Everyone who follows Christ has a conversion story. Some of us have miraculous encounters with the Living God. Others have a quieter experience where we just knew that Jesus truly is the only way. But all of us are freed from sin’s bondage by a Savior who took on the debt only He could pay. That is something we should take the time to consider over and over again.
Remember the Works of God
“If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which the LORD your God brought you out.”(Deut. 7:17-18)
God wants us remembering the amazing things He has done for us, especially if we’re feeling fearful, overwhelmed, or anxious. If it’s challenging to think of examples of His goodness, consider that the Lord works in ways we just may not attribute to Him. The world uses words like coincidence, chance, luck, and fate. If you’re a believer, attribute those blessings to the One who loves giving us good gifts (Matt. 7:11)!
Remember God’s Commandments
“So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God” (Num. 15:40). God wants us to remember the things He commands us to do and then He wants us to do them. He is our Creator and as such, He knows what is best for us and He has perspective we don’t. In the same way that a loving parent steers a child away from the enticing plugged-in power cord for their well-being and safety, so our Lord has given us safeguards and parameters for our benefit. And how often we forget that it is for our welfare and for our good!
Remember God Keeps His Word
“Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan, as your portion for an inheritance.’”(1 Chron. 16:15-18)
God wants us to remember He keeps His promises. He is trustworthy and He is faithful. When we feel like the Lord hasn’t done for us what we think He should have or when we feel like He hasn’t held up His end of the bargain, there’s usually a discrepancy with our understanding of Scripture or our understanding of His character. If we start with the position that God is completely reliable and His fidelity is without question, we have a framework with which we can see everything clearly. The Enemy is a liar. We know this. And one of his oldest tricks is to make us question what we most assuredly and concretely know. When you start to question whether God will do what He says He will, speak truth to yourself. “For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness” (Ps. 33:4).
Scripture has armed us with some good and profitable ways in which we should wander through our memories, seeing the glory of God in all the sweet and joyous times, in the laughter and the fun. We can recall the tender ways in which the Lord dealt with us in our seasons of stubbornness. But what about those more volatile recollections that you just don’t know what to do with?
Remember Not to Grieve Your Sinful Past
“Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it” (Luke 17:32-33). This reminder was spoken by Jesus. Lot’s wife, who remains nameless in Scripture, is immortalized for a single, tragic backward look. If you’ll recall in Genesis 19, two men, who elsewhere in the chapter are referred to as angels, are sent to destroy Sodom. These men sent by God ended up having to forcibly take the hands of Lot, his wife, and their two daughters and bring them outside of the city to spare them. They left Lot and his family with a wise, single warning: “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away” (Gen. 19:17). They ended up running to the nearby town of Zoar and as soon as they were out of harm’s way, the Lord destroyed both Sodom and neighboring Gomorrah.
“But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (v.26). She physically looked back, but anyone who might have heard a sermon preached on this text knows it was the metaphorical glance backward that was her demise. In seeking to keep a life the Lord rescued her from, she lost her physical life. Presumably, in Sodom, as wicked as the city was, she had friendships and treasured belongings. She might have had streets she enjoyed strolling down or vistas from high hills she found solace in. Her heart probably held fond memories for her home. But the Lord removed her from all of that for her good. She didn’t focus on what was ahead of her. She grieved where she came from.
That’s the warning to us. We should take great care within our minds about how we regard the sin we have been delivered from. We should resist the temptation to cherish it or redraft it into something less hideous than it actually is. Just as we ought to guard our present lives against sin, we must also guard our thought lives against past sin. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
Sin ensnares us and prevents us from following God where He desires for us to go. He tells us in His Word that it will lead to death (Rom. 6:23). We must take it as seriously as He does. When Memory Lane takes us on a path toward destruction, we must focus our eyes on where the Lord is leading us, behaving differently than Lot’s wife who gave into the temptation.
Are there physical things, mementos that cause you to treasure sin from your former life before you knew Christ or may not have been faithfully following Him? Address them; dispose of them if need be. Memorize Scriptures that remind you that you are a new creation and we are conquerors in Christ and nothing can separate us from His love (2 Cor. 5:17, Rom. 8:27). If provocative memories come flooding in, pray that the Lord would help you cast them “as far as the east is from the west,” (Ps. 103:12) just as He does with our sins when we’re repentant. Ask a friend to pray with you. Accountability is such a gift, but especially when we’re struggling with sin.
And then, remember. Remember the goodness and the faithfulness of our Savior who has instructed us in the way we should go, for our good and for His glory.
Dana Carrington loves Jesus and words. She has lived in the national capital region for thirteen years but loves to venture to parts far and wide. Her husband and four kiddos are her greatest delight.