Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 30, 2012

When It’s Good To Remember

Feeling the need for a little break a couple of weeks ago, my husband, oldest daughter, and I headed out to the Great Smoky Mountains. What better way to rejuvenate one’s body, soul, and spirit than to head to the mountains, to view the beautiful vistas, to experience the incredible quiet, and to reconnect with the beautiful world God created for us? Yet, in spite of all the beauty around me, I was reminded of something that I guess I’ve always known in my heart. More than the awe-inspiring scenery we saw or the things we did, it was the countless sweet memories associated with the area that seemed to refresh and restore me most.

You see, my memories of this area go all the way back to my childhood. No summer was ever complete without at least one family trip to Cherokee with my parents and grandparents. And no trip to Cherokee was complete without shopping for moccasins or souvenirs, and pony rides. Sometimes we would continue on over the Great Smoky Mountains into Gatlinburg. Even today, I cannot head over the Soco Mountains into Cherokee without recalling these anticipated excursions.

I also remember heading over those same Smoky Mountains in a bright red Camaro with just-married scrawled across the back window, our first excursion before heading toward the Shenandoah National Park on our honeymoon.  The memories continued with our own kids – family picnics at Collins Creek, traipsing around the Pioneer Homestead, walking trails and exploring Cades Cove, not to mention those same souvenir shops and pony rides in Cherokee, the Smoky Mountain Candy Kitchen and Village Shops in Gatlinburg, and the Old Mill, Apple Barn, and outlets in Pigeon Forge. And then I smile as I remember our last excursion across the Smokies prior to this most recent one. It was just my husband and me. We had both just decided to retire from our jobs and we headed to the Smokies to celebrate. It had been a while since we had made our way up to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park at over 6,000 feet. I still remember trudging laboriously up the steep trail to the tower at the top. It had not seemed nearly as steep years ago! But we made it to the top and we both stood, inhaling deeply, looking over the vast mountainous scenery and remembering.

In the book of Joshua (Chapter 4) in the Old Testament, the Lord wanted the nation of Israel to remember. He had just helped the people to pass miraculously over the Jordan River on dry ground. As soon as the 12 priests bearing the ark of the covenant rested their feet in the Jordan River, the waters were cut off and the waters coming from upstream stood still, like a wall. As the priests stood in the midst of the Jordan, all the Israelites crossed over on dry ground. After they had all passed safely over, the Lord told Joshua to command 12 men, one from each tribe of the nation of Israel, to take 12 stones from the place where the priests’ feet stood in the Jordan. He told them to carry the stones over to the other side of the river and to leave them in the place where they would camp that night. These stones were set up in Gilgal as a memorial to help the Israelites remember how God had brought the people over the Jordan. “Then he [Joshua] spoke to the children of Israel, saying: ‘When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land; for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.’” (Joshua 4:21-24).

Why did God want the people to remember? I am sure that as the nation of Israel looked at those 12 stones and thought about the way God had led them over the Jordan River, their courage was renewed and they were strengthened. They were ready to continue their pursuit of the promised land. Likewise, successive generations and other peoples would hear and learn of the awesome, mighty God of the Israelites.

In much the same way, the prophet Jeremiah was renewed as He considered God’s faithfulness. Jeremiah was brokenhearted over the nation of Israel’s sin and the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon. In Lamentations 3:19-24, Jeremiah cries: “Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall. My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him.’” As Jeremiah remembered the Lord’s mercies, He was reminded of God’s faithfulness and he found renewed hope.

I realized as I looked over the blankets of mountains in the Great Smoky Mountains, with the blankets of treasured memories that tugged at my heart, that it is good to remember. Remembering reminds me that my God is faithful. I cannot remember my anticipated trips as a child or any number of trips since then without seeing His hand that guided us, His presence that refreshed us, and His grace that wove a trail of memories that continue to remind me of His mercy and faithfulness in all generations. Through good times, tough times, laughter, and sorrow, He has proven Himself to be worthy of my trust over and again. And because of Him, I can have renewed hope and courage for tomorrow. How good it is to remember!

“I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary, Who is so great a God as our God?

(Psalm 77:11-13)

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