In the days before the Israelites finally enter the promised land, Moses speaks at length to the people recounting what God has done for them, describing what God will do for them, and what they must to do remain in God’s blessing. He tells them to, “Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character…to find out whether or not you would obey’ (Deuteronomy 8:1-2), and ‘…Recognize today that the Lord your God is the one who will cross over ahead of you like a devouring fire to destroy them (the inhabitants of the land whom God knows to be wicked). Then Moses asks ‘Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve with all your heart and soul. And you must obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am give you today for your own good.” Remember, Recognize, Required.
As I continue to read the book of Deuteronomy I wish that I began to take note of how many times the Lord, through Moses, urges the people to Remember, for it is often. Here are three: “Remember and never forget how angry you made the Lord your God in the wilderness. From the day you left Egypt until now, you have been constantly rebelling against him (Deuteronomy 9:7), “Remember that the Lord rescued you…in order to make you his very own people…(Deut 4:20), “…Remember this and keep it firmly in your mind: The Lord is God in both heaven and on earth, and there is no other (Deut 4:39). It seems then, that God knows human memory is limited, but his desire for us to remember what he has done in our lives is infinite.
Does this mean that if we remember what he has done, it will be easier for us to recognize him currently at work in our lives? Remembering who he is, who he says to be and what he did for us personally, is the best way to relax in this moment as we look for the signs and recognize that he is working for us today. Can God really be at work, for the good of those who love him, during this very frightening and uncertain time millions of people are out of work, sick, and afraid? Why doesn’t he just end this now?
I wonder, as the Israelites looked over the promised land, did they wish that God would just immediately give them land? For they knew that to get this land they would have to fight in hand to hand combat to get it. Could there have been some people, who would have rather returned to Egypt? I am sure there would have feen fear and anxiety amongst them, they are after all, only human. But God tells them to recognize that he went before them, that he is at work in their lives, basically wanting them to trust him, no matter how hard and long this time will be.
While he’s working out our lives for our good, for that’s what he says he will do for those who love him, and that’s what you can see he’s done in your past, all he wants us to do is love, trust, and obey – as in do what his word says.
So, as you remember what God did for the Israelites and the miracles he did for them, what can you personally remember about God and what he has done for you? And right now, in the middle of this pandemic, what can you see God doing? Can you recognize his love? Can you recognize his goodness? It may be in something small, like a phone call or text message from an old friend, or the kindness of a nurse or doctor, or the promise of getting back to work sooner than you thought. Or can you recognize God at work in someone you love? Can you see their heart and mind turning to thoughts of God at this time? Or are you being ‘God recognized’ for someone else as you serve them? We are many people and God is at work in many ways. What then, do you think God requires of you right now? Aside from loving, trusting, and obeying, is there something that God keeps putting in your mind, something that you should probably do but just haven’t yet?
As for me, I don’t have an awe inspiring testimony to remember; a moment like the apostle Paul experienced as he was on his way to persecute Christians when Jesus appeared and in an instant changed his life (and the course of history for Paul’s writings make up a large portion of the New Testament). My faith journey is one of slow burn with a little bit of revelation here, a prayer spoken over there, and a good sunset or two around that world that inspired me to think more of God and his purposes. But there are times that I can remember God at work in my life. In recent years I have seen and felt God’s guidance and assurance over my life and the lives of my family members as we grieve through the sudden and tragic death of my brother Paul. And now I can recognize God at work in the spiritual and personal disaster that has come in the wake of Paul leaving earth. Also in all of this mess, and the disaster that is Covid-19, as I read God’s word I have come to know what God requires of me today – to love him, to read about him more, to serve him (thus the blog – I really am a reluctant blogger but for some unknown purpose I feel compelled to do this), to trust him always, and obey his commands he so clearly makes known in his word…for my own ultimate good. But mostly, Remember who he is.
These truly are alarming and worrying times. No person or expert really knows how this Coronavirus pandemic is going to end, nor what we have to go through to reach that day. It can feel as if the world is teetering on the edge of collapse. It can feel hopeless. We all know that we all feel isolation to an extreme. So what now? What can we do? Worry? I pray not. God said three things to the Israelites and he says it to us today: Remember, Recognize, and Required. As we remember how he has helped us in time past and we recognize him and the work he is doing in our lives now, all we are required to do is love, trust and obey him today. We only have today.
So don’t worry about these things…but your heavenly Father already knows all of your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you every thing you need.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s troubles are enough for today.Matthew 6:31-34 NLT