Therefore I will Remember

Therefore I will Remember

Take a moment to become still.

 

Let the silence deepen within you and around you. From the silence, hear these words:

 

 

"These things I remember as I pour out my soul;​ how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.” ​ — Psalm 42:4

When you’re trudging through a tunnel, the middle is the hardest part.

There are times in life when it seems like we’re trudging through a long, dark tunnel.

In those moments we discover a fundamental truth: When you’re trudging through a tunnel, the middle is the hardest part.

 

When you first enter a tunnel, the light from behind you warms your back and illuminates your path. Near the end of the tunnel, the light in front of you warms your face and calls you into wide open spaces where you can see clearly and walk freely.

 

In the middle of the tunnel, however, it’s just dark, and it’s easy to become

DISORIENTED, DISCOURAGED OR AFRAID.
At the same time, it’s in the middle of the tunnel where we often discover that God has given us a great gift.

We carry within us the flicker of life-giving memories.

 

If we tend to those memories, fanning them into a flame, they can fill us with warmth and light the path before us, like a candle dancing in the dark.

 

Psalm 42 captures the cry of a people who were trudging through a long, dark tunnel.

It’s the cry of captives in exile, torn from their land, their communities, their customs and from their sacred place of worship. The creation of this psalm is attributed to “the sons of Korah,” a tribe assigned to be the custodian and doorkeeper for the Tabernacle. For these faithful servants, to be cut off from the house of God caused deep and terrible pain. Not only had they lost their place of worship, they had lost their sense of purpose, community and mission. Truly they could say, “My tears have been my food day and night” (verse 3).

 

Yet even as they poured out their sorrow to God in lament, they carried within them the flicker of warm memories that could not be extinguished,even by a torrent of tears.

Not only had they lost their place of worship, they had lost their sense of purpose, community and mission.

Notice that these memories seem to have a physical nature to them. There is the hint of muscle memory:

I remember how I used to go to the house of God. There is what you might call a deep-tissue memory of being jostled and jam-packed into a crowd: I remember the festive throng. There is emotional memory wondrously embedded in the echo of vibrations captured by the tiny bones of the inner ear: I remember shouts of joy and praise. And though it is not explicitly mentioned, certainly there were vivid memories of specific sights and smells associated with worshipping Yahweh. Memory, it seems, is carried physically in our bodies.

 

Imagine for a moment a small huddle of exiles gathered quietly out of earshot of their captors. For a few stolen moments, the captives warm themselves around the flicker of their memories of worship.

 

“Remember the fragrant aroma of the incense? I can almost smell it now,” one might recall.

 

“Yes, and the rich detail of the priestly garments in that holy place,” another might respond. “It was a feast for the eyes.”

 

“Do you remember how Simeon always sang slightly off key? And yet so loud?” they might laugh together, before settling into a silence that amplified the ache in their bodies for all that had been lost and left behind. Then perhaps someone would whisper, “Do you remember how we felt the protection of the Mighty One in those days?”

 

Apparently even their souls had the capacity to remember.

 

Like Psalm 103, Psalm 42 invites us to have a conversation with our own soul.

It invites us to pose a tender question: Why, my soul, are you downcast?Why so disturbed within me?​ (verse 5). And then the psalm invites us to light a candle of memory with intention:

 

Therefore I will remember …

Just as you were fed and cared for today, you will be fed and cared for tomorrow.

There is a story told of orphans in England at the end of World War II.

In one orphanage, the children were so traumatized by what they had witnessed, they had trouble sleeping at night. Their souls were disturbed within them. One of the caregivers had an idea: What if we gave each child a piece of bread to hold onto when they go to bed? The caregivers assured the children as they tucked them in, “Just as you were fed and cared for today, you will be fed and cared for tomorrow.” The feel and smell of the bread brought comfort to the children, and they began to sleep peacefully. The intentional practice of remembering what had given them life in the past gave them hope for life in the future. ​

 

It seems the practice of intentional remembering had a similar effect on the sons of Korah. Psalm 42 ends with these words in verse 11:

 

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” ​

As we mark the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, we may find ourselves discouraged and disoriented, like we’re wandering in the middle of a tunnel.

We may have forgotten what it feels like to go where kids are with the love of Jesus or to be jostled in a noisy crowd of fans in the football stands cheering on our team. We may have forgotten the sights and sounds of a jam-packed room where people are singing and laughing and telling stories.

 

Worse yet, we may have forgotten what it feels like to be tucked under the shadow of God’s wing, protected from all harm.

If the sons of Korah and the orphans of England could speak today, they might invite us to join them in a simple practice. As we pour out our sorrows to God, let’s practice remembering when He warmed us with His presence in the past. Remember how it felt in our bodies. Remember how it felt in our souls. Intentionally fan the flicker of those memories until they begin to warm you again and give you hope for the days ahead. ​

THE MIDDLE IS THE HARDEST PART, BUT WE CAN SAY WITH THE CRUCIFIED CHRIST, I WILL YET PRAISE HIM. JESUS, WHOSE BODY LAID DEAD IN A DARK TOMB FOR TWO DAYS WILL TELL YOU,
THE GOD WHO ENLIVENED YOU IN THE PAST WILL ENLIVEN YOU AGAIN.

Remembering God’s Goodness Together:

Take a few moments to let your mind wander back to the days and weeks before we became aware of the pandemic. Recall a specific moment from that time that shimmers in your memory with goodness, warmth and joy.

 

Intentionally fan the flames of that memory.

Perhaps write about it in your journal or describe it in detail to a friend. Notice how and where you experience that memory in your body today. As you reflect upon that memory, where do you see Jesus in it? What is He doing? What expression is on His face? What would Jesus like to say to you as you reflect upon this memory together?

 

Allow your experience of God’s generous goodness in the past to strengthen you for the future still to come.

 

Remembering God’s Goodness Together: Daily Engagement

Day Two:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8, VOICE translation). As we move into the second week of Lent, what would it be like to fast from the sources of information and images that drain us of encouragement, hope and strength, and feast on the sources of information and images that brighten the light within us and warm us with hope and love? Our memories of God’s presence and activity in our lives are one of those sources. We recall those memories in moments, not in weeks or months or years. Ask God to help you recall a moment from the past week when you experienced the warmth and light of His presence. Sit quietly and wait for the Spirit to illuminate that moment for you. How did you experience God’s goodness in that moment? How did you experience it in your body? How did you experience it in your soul? What conversation would you like to have with the Lord about that moment? Consider pausing throughout this day and dwelling in the memory of that moment and allowing it to warm you again with God’s love.

Day Three:

Read Psalm 42:1-4. Read it reflectively, then read it again, more slowly. Is there a word or phrase that you are drawn to in the passage? Hold that word or phrase within you as if it were a piece of warm bread the Spirit has placed into your hands. Ruminate upon it. What stirs within you as you begin to digest this morsel? What images or pictures? What sights, smells or sounds? What thoughts? What feelings? What longings or desires are stirred? Journal about what the Spirit is stirring in you. Ask the Lord to reveal to you any invitation He might have for you. What would it look like for this word — this bread — to become flesh in you today?

Day Four:

These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go…” (Psalm 42:4). If we are anything in Young Life, we are the people who go. We go where kids are, step into their shoes, look at life through their eyes and serve them with the humility and love of Jesus (Philippians 2:5-8). We share our lives with them as well as our words (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Yet our ability to physically go has been hamstrung during the pandemic to different degrees in different locations at different times. As a result, we may have forgotten to remember who we are. Now, more than ever, we need to practice intentionally remembering how we used to go. As we remember, we may experience grief over what we’ve lost in the last few months, but we will also fan the flame of hope of what God has in store for us in the days to come. Take a few moments to sit in silence. Ask the Spirit to remind you of a specific moment of when you used to go. A moment when you risked your comfort and your security and stepped into someone else’s world, someone else’s shoes, looked at life through their eyes and served them with the humility and love of Jesus. Recall this moment in as much detail as you are able. What did it feel like in your body? What did it feel like in your soul? ​ Journal about it. Ask the Lord to fan the flames of encouragement within you and remind you who you are. What conversation would you like to have with Him about your longing to go? Perhaps borrow Psalm 42:5 as your closing prayer.

Day Five:

Read Psalm 42:6-8. Read it reflectively, then read it again, more slowly. Is there a word or phrase that you are drawn to in the passage? As we did on day three, hold that word or phrase within you as if it were a piece of warm bread the Spirit has placed into your hands. Ruminate upon it. What stirs within you as you begin to digest this morsel? What images or pictures? What sights, smells or sounds? What thoughts? What feelings? What longings or desires are stirred? Journal about what the Spirit is stirring in you. Ask the Lord to reveal to you any invitation He might have for you. What would it look like for this word — this bread — to become flesh in you today?

Day Six:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth…” (Philippians 4:8). We return today to the passage from day two. We remember. We recall. How is it going? Have you been able to fast from the sources of information and images that drain you of encouragement and hope? What has that struggle been like for you this week? What have you noticed about yourself in the process? Have you heard any invitation from the Lord? What would it look like today to fill your mind with beauty and truth? It begins with your eyes and ears. What visual gift might you give your soul today? Drinking in the beauty of a flower, a sunset, the light in a child’s eyes? What beauty might you offer your ears? Stopping to listen to birds singing? A favorite recording of a life-giving piece of music? The cascade of a child’s laughter? Talk honestly with the Lord about these things. Make a plan for treating your soul to truth and beauty today.

Day Seven:

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light, we see light” (Psalm 36:7-9). Today there stands a tunnel carved from solid rock that winds beneath the City of David, believed to be built by King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:20). It is an aqueduct designed to protect the water supply of the city in case the city was attacked or under siege. The tunnel channels water from the upper Gihon River into a collecting pool at the bottom. Pilgrims who visit the area today and slosh through this long and narrow aqueduct discover it is truly dark in the middle of a tunnel.

 

As they walk in the dark, feet soaked in water, they carry within them a memory that both warms them from the past and calls them to keep putting one foot in front of the other toward what lies ahead. It is the memory of Jesus healing a man born blind. The memory of Jesus spitting on the ground, putting mud in a man’s eyes, then instructing him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. For pilgrims who keep walking through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the light at the end warms their faces and welcomes them into the wide open space surrounding that very pool. They emerge from the darkness, squint into the light and imagine what it was like for the man born blind to stand in those waters and squint in that same sunlight for the first time.

Take a moment as this week ends to sit in silence and ask the Lord to bring to mind a memory of watching a young person squint into the light of God’s love for the first time.

 

Recall all that you can from that experience. What did it feel like in your body to witness this moment? What did it feel like in your soul? Journal about it. Have a conversation with the Lord about it. What would he like to say to you about this moment? In His light, we see light. As you stand in the light of this memory, what light do you see for the days ahead?

​ © 2004-2021 Young Life. All rights reserved.