At the beginning of the year, I asked the Lord for a word or a passage of scripture that He had specifically for me for the year. A friend of mine shared with me that that was something she had been doing and I thought it was pretty cool. As I spent time reading and studying the scriptures, I quickly began to see a theme of remembrance laced throughout this beautiful and powerful story of redemption. As I turned the pages, it kept showing up; it was everywhere!
Remember. “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.” Deuteronomy 5:15
Remember. “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 of 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. So will the LORD your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid.” Deuteronomy 7:17-19
Remember. “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” Psalm 63:5-7
Remember. “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. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph.” Psalm 77:11-15
Remember. “Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:21-22
Remember. “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” Isaiah 46:8-11
Last week was a week of remembrance for me. Before I left for Ghana, friends blessed me with some money and told me to do something fun while I was in Ghana. Done. I can totally do that because fun is wired into my DNA. When I think of fun, the last thing on my list would involve me by myself, in a quiet place, with no TV, no internet and nothing to do for 4 days, but read. Honestly, that sounds like torture for an extrovert. But it’s just what the Lord had planned. Through a friend of a friend, I found out about this place nestled in the woods, right on a lake, about 30 km outside of the hustle and bustle of Kumasi. I booked my stay and traveled 6 hours south by bus and one hour east by taxi. The view was beautiful and it felt like I was in a different country… This was not the Ghana I had been growing accustomed to. Not only was I in a quiet place, but I was the only one staying there, so other than the staff, I was by myself. No TV and no internet, but I had my Kindle with me, loaded with the first of a two part women’s bible study series on the book of Exodus.
It’s easy to look at the story of the Israelites (or anyone else’s life for that matter) and ask, “Are they serious? How are they still doubting the presence and trustworthiness of God after everything He’s done, so graciously showing them that He can be trusted? They aren’t seriously complaining again, are they?” But as I studied the pages and dug into the story, I found myself walking alongside the Israelites. I thought about my life and it hit me. I wrote in big, bold letters. I. AM. ISRAEL. The Lord was constantly showing the Israelites that He could be trusted and called them to remember – not just in their generation, but also for all generations to come – that they were slaves in Egypt, He rescued them, He brought them out with a strong hand and performed many signs and wonders in order to bring glory to Himself and show everyone that He is the Lord and there is none like Him. This, too, is my story.
The Lord took me back to the beginning of my journey, and throughout the week, I recalled His goodness as we took a stroll down memory lane.
I remembered what my life was like before the Lord extended His hand to me. I was a slave to sin, completely helpless and unable to loosen it’s grip on me. I saw myself sitting in my college dorm room where God so graciously opened my eyes to help me see my desperate need for Jesus, the only One who could save me and bring me back to what my heart was longing for – Himself. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:1-7
I remembered 2010, a year of humility and surrender. The Lord began to address my deep rooted issues of pride and control and showed me that these things existed because I did not trust Him, and although I would never verbally admit it, I thought I was better suited to be in charge. He slowly pried my tightly clenched fists open, reassuring me that He was better. Little did I know that the Lord was preparing me for a test – knowing what I now knew, would I put my trust in God’s plan for my life, or would I continue to try to hold the reins? In early October, the Lord spoke clearly, “Quit your job.” Although my days at work were full of stress and many tears, we were still in a recession and I was taught never to quit a job without another one to go to. But I knew I had to obey. Filled with a peace that only comes by the power of the Holy Spirit, I turned down a 25% pay increase and turned in my letter of resignation.
I remembered 2011, a year of the Lord’s faithfulness and provision. He provided work for me and it somehow turned into a small business. Although my salary was only one-third of what I had been making in my corporate job, I had ten times more joy and fulfillment and that was worth more than any amount of money I could have been offered. I started nannying, not realizing that the Lord was using that to prepare me for the next step of His plan. A family from my church was going through a five-month discipleship training school overseas and needed a nanny to come with them to watch their youngest daughter. I prayed for clear confirmation from the Lord and He gave it to me. All of the pieces fell into place in such a way that only God could get the glory, and in late September I left with a feeling that I wouldn’t be coming back to pick up where I left off. I remembered a random girl telling me one night, “I feel like God wants me to tell you that you are not just here to nanny. Your purpose in being here is much bigger than that.” Then I began to ask God what exactly His purpose was for me in being there.
I remembered 2012, a year of increased faith and impossible things made possible only by the hand of the Lord. I felt like God was leading me to do a six-month discipleship training school of my own in Australia. The only problem was that I had not been working for the past five months and I only had four months to raise $9,600. The Lord provided everything I needed in just a couple of months, continuing to confirm that I was on the right path. I learned so much about the nature and character of God in the first three months of my discipleship training school, and although I had clearly seen the mighty hand of God move in my life over the past two years, I was still struggling with whether He really is who He says He is. He graciously responded to my doubts and simple prayer of “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief” by allowing me to watch Him flex as He brought freedom to the soul of a woman and restored the sight of a man. In November, while in Uganda, the Lord spoke clearly, “You’re coming back.” Once more, the Lord pried my hands open, and as I laid my life down before Him, He so sweetly reassured me that He would continue to be faithful and that He is enough.
I thought back on this year, a season of waiting, followed by a promise being fulfilled. In the Lord’s abundant provision, I came back from Australia to a peaceful and quiet home where I would stay for six months as I entered into what I felt like would be a season of waiting. I asked the Lord just what exactly He meant by the word He spoke to me in Uganda. “Did you mean I’m coming back to YWAM? Did you mean I’m coming back to Uganda? Did you mean I’m coming back to Africa? Did you mean this year? Did you mean five years? Did you mean ten years? What did you mean?” I was catching up with one of my dear friends and her dad one night, and I told them I wasn’t sure what was next, but that I had a strong desire to use the gifts and abilities the Lord had given me in a way that would add value to people’s lives. I just wanted to do something that mattered. Her dad asked me if I had ever thought about micro-finance and I told him I didn’t know a thing about it. As he explained how it worked, I was intrigued and thought, “Hmm this sounds like something that would align with this vague desire I have. Lord, is this from you?” Over the next couple of months, once again, the pieces came together in such a way that only God could get the glory. I was connected with a micro-finance organization working in Ghana, told them I knew nothing about micro-finance, but felt like it was something the Lord was leading me to pursue, and they encouraged me to come with them on one of their business training trips. I initially planned to go on a 10-day trip to Ghana, which turned into a two-month stay, and while here, I felt like the Lord was leading me to come back again in November for the last phase of Videre’s business training program. And that brings me back to today.
I think God calls us to remember so often because He knows that we are so quick to forget who He is and what He’s done. And yet He doesn’t respond with condescending remarks or anger when we forget and begin to doubt or question His presence; He responds with mercy, as He holds out His hand and patiently says, “You can trust me. I promise. Remember.”
I’m not sure what the future holds, but I have learned that some things are certain: God is faithful, He can be trusted with all areas of your life, and when doubt creeps in, it will quickly be replaced with peace as you remember.