Remembering

The Old Testament is full of stories of forgetting. It was a cycle: the Israelites, God’s people, would witness a miracle and worship Him. Then, after a while, they’d forget and go chase after other gods. Then they’d suffer for it and cry out to the true God for help. And then He’d display His power to rescue them yet again.
His continual command to them is to remember. “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done…Remember the wonders he has done.” (Ps. 105:1,5)

The word “remember” appears 166 times in the NIV. It’s the antidote to many ills: dissatisfaction, self-satisfaction, discouragement, arrogance, pride. It keeps us close to God by reminding us of His goodness and the times He’s been faithful in the past.
As 2011 draws to a close, I want to remember the times that remind me of God’s goodness—the successes, the mountaintops, the glimpses of assurance. Some highlights: 
  • In June, I graduated from college, probably the happiest person to go through that three-hour ceremony in the baseball stadium.
  • In September, I sat down at my computer to start a blog and launch a career as a freelance writer and editor. It was a leap of faith: I didn’t really knowing where I was going, but was trying to obey God’s call and guidance. Today this blog has almost 1,200 hits (thanks to all of you)!  
  • In October, I started tutoring (now have 9 students) and had an article and a poem published on Associated Content (now Yahoo! Voices).
  • In November, I quit my babysitting job and started writing the second draft of my children’s novel (now up to 12,000 words!)
  • Two weeks ago, I received and completed my first professional proofreading project (I flinched at dangling modifiers for days). Now there’s another one coming my way!
These milestones remind me of God’s mighty power and tender love. Four months ago, I had no job and no confidence that I could make it as a writer. Now the elements of a writing career are sprouting up around me like crocuses. It is amazing to watch, because although I planted the seeds and watered them, God has worked (and continues to work) the miracle of growth.
I also want to remember the tough times of this past year, though. In between the milestones, there have been many dry days when I was too tired to write, had no income, wondered if I was doing the right thing at all, or if I should go out and get a “real” job. When I’ve felt sad and alone and sorry for myself, though, is when I have most desperately turned to God (just like the Israelites). When all other support crumbles, when the music dies and you’re alone in the quiet, it’s then that you really understand that God is the Solid Rock, all-sufficient and very present in trouble. Deserts are testing times: for growing and learning to depend, to rely, to trust. It’s in the book of Deuteronomy:
“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”

It’s in the times of dryness that we learn if we’re really walking by faith, not sight. Sometimes you can’t tell until you experience blindness.
The main thing is, I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to forget the lessons learned in the desert. And I don’t want to get deluded and think that I worked the successes for myself. God gave me the gift of words and has called me to use it for His glory and others’ blessing. He has opened doors of opportunity and given me fortitude to face the giants. And through it all, He has been incredibly faithful.
So I close the year with a prayer from the Psalms:
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness” (Ps. 115:1).

What do you remember as you look back on this year? 


A few quick notes:
  • No blog post next week: I’m going out of town. See you the first week of January!

  • I’ve signed up for an online blog class that goes through January and February. I’m excited to learn more about blogging, so keep an eye out for updates and improvements throughout the next couple of months! 

3 thoughts on “Remembering

  1. I’ve heard it said Alina that the desert in the Jewish culture is a sign of purity. I believe this to be true… gold can only be refined when the impurities are melted away. I have intimately experienced God in those times when life seemed devoid of joy only to realize that he was molding me again,redirecting my focus back to where it needed to be, on him. I am blessed by your blogging and the ability that you have to clearly communicate. Keep up the good work!

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  2. There are a lot of transitions for recent graduates. I remember being thrilled to finish school last May too, and the craziness of finding work, plus trusting that God would provide for my needs. You already know my big stepping out on faith this next week and several months. Remembering His provision in the past is what we need to help get us through.Good luck with the blogging workshop! I’m excited for you! =)

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  3. Anonymous: what a neat piece of information! I know certain orders of monks would seek out “deserts” to purify their relationship with God, but I didn’t know it came from Judaism. Neat!Angela: How true. Remembering the past also gives me strength to trust Him for the future. Praying for your leap of faith this week 🙂

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