2019 is coming! With all its potential and promise. Its hopes and resolutions. its goals and dreams.
And with fears, concerns, and risks. Anyone looking at the world these days must observe that the dissensions and challenges are scary. Both close to home and around the globe, we live in pivotal times.
“Those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it” goes the saying. Not remembering the mistakes of the past means we will walk into the same traps our predecessors did (or even worse, repeat our own mess-ups.)
But the spiritual twist on this truth is just as valid: those who don’t remember the way God worked in the past are doomed to walk in fear that He won’t help now.
BUT if I recall how the Lord provided for my lack, how He conquered my enemies, how He slayed my dragons, how He protected, guided, sheltered, and surrounded me in the past, then HOW COULD I FEAR about the future?
That’s why we’re concentrating on 1 Samuel 7:12, where the Judge Samuel, plunks down a big rock monument, and tells everybody (and I am paraphrasing here): “HEY EVERYBODY! Lookie here at this ROCK! See how big and strong it is? That’s just like our Lord. From the moment we were born, up to THIS VERY MOMENT, He has helped us. All the time. Without stopping. So quit messing around and serve Him only. And DON’T FORGET!”
Faith in the Future BECAUSE of The Past
An old Scottish preacher, Andrew Maclaren, wrote this about I Samuel 7:12, (which in the KJV says, “Hitherto the ***” I love the word Hitherto. It makes me feel smart. Or British.):
“‘Hitherto’ … looks forward as well as backward, and sees the future in the past. Memory passes into hope, and the radiance in the sky behind throws light on to our forward path. God’s ‘hitherto’ carries ‘henceforward’ wrapped up in it. His past reveals the eternal principles which will mould [sic] His future acts. He has helped, therefore he will help, is no good argument concerning men; but it is valid concerning God.” (emphasis added)
I love that: memory passes into hope. God’s work in the past reveals His future acts. Memory breeds hope. When I REMEMBER Jesus’s ever-present hand, then I look at the future with confidence, not fear.
I won’t trust the impossible with God UNLESS I remember how well He worked in the impossible before.
Look Back and Remember
But the problem is this: In our what-have-you-done-for-me-lately society, I easily forget. (I mean, if I can’t always remember my own kids’ names, how could I expect to remember the past without some help.)
I need help, just like the Isrealites did. I require an Ebenezer or I won’t remember.
I know I keep saying “remember”, but the repetition is purposeful. Remembering must be intentional, and if your rememberer is rusty, this might take some work. Like a cold engine in a car that sat too long in the driveway, you might need a jump start.
Need some jumper cables? Here are my suggestions:
Get a journal or spiral or scrap of paper or a piece of papyrus or a clay tablet or SOMETHING and start writing down ways the Lord worked in the past. (You can sign-up below to get a free printable.)
Ask the Lord to help you remember. Just pray: Lord, please bring to mind ways You have worked in my life in the past. Maybe I didn’t recognize them, or maybe I have just forgotten them, but please help me remember them now. That is a prayer the Lord answers. Every time I ask this, He brings back dusty ‘ole memories of His work. Some of which, at the time they occurred, I didn’t realize were Him.
Then, when you remember something, make sure that you record it. Grab your journal and memorialize His hand. Just like the Ebenezer Rock, your list becomes a monument to the Lord, reminding you of how long he has helped you.
We look back and remember the Lord’s hand. Then we can look forward and hope.
Look Forward and Hope
Your future holds unknown challenges. It could be difficult or scary. You may see the beginnings already: a shaky relationship, health worries, a snarky teenager, a thin bank account, or any other concern. How do you look those worries in the face and not run and hide in your closet? Or grab a drink? Or lose yourself in Netflix? Or dive into a chocolate cake? Or indulge in whatever coping mechanism masks your quaking heart?
Jesus faced the cross with fear, but willingly submitted Himself to God’s will and not His own. He submitted to a horrendous present BECAUSE He knew His Father held His redemptive future, with victory.
The only way I can face a challenging future upright and energetically is through the knowledge that the same Lord who has done so much in my past walks into that future with me. He knows what I will face and assures me He will never leave or forsake me.
And when I forget all He has done, which I have an annoying habit of doing, I look at my Ebenezer Rock. When I read my list of the Lord’s actions, how He has helped me before, how He will do it again. Remembering is the only cure for forgetting. And the value of remembering is the confidence it gives to face the future.
We look forward and hope when we see that the Lord’s aid is already there.
31 Days of Remembering
This is WHY we are taking this first month of 2019 to remember. By setting aside a few moments each morning to recall God’s hand in our lives, we can walk into this New Year with confidence and hope.
What does this year hold? There is no telling. It could be the worst year we have ever had. Or it could be the best. It could hold job loss or business success. The end of a relationship or the beginning of one. A health crisis or a natural disaster. The departure or return of a prodigal. The death or completion of a dream. Who knows? The Lord knows. He knows the future. He planned it.
So, let’s Raise An Ebenezer! By remembering the past and all the ways He has worked, 2019 can be your best year, even if the circumstances are some of the worst. The Lord who walked through your past, holds your hand, and enters this year with you.
Every day of January there will be a devotional on the blog designed to help us REMEMBER. I wonder what would happen to our faith and confidence we concentrated every day for 31 days on God’s power in our lives? I’m not sure, but I can’t wait to find out.
Sign up below and you will receive one email a day for the month of January, 2019. You will also get access to the printable Ebenezer List and some labels you can choose between for your journal. Contact a friend. Have them join up with you and encourage each other to REMEMBER the Lord. Let’s help each other move into 2019 with more confidence and faith in Jesus than we have ever had before.
31 Days Devotions
Sign up to receive a devotional email in your email each day of January, 2019.