I Remember

To remember is to retain in thought by treasuring in a fixed state of affection and tenderness.

Ps 19:14 – Let the sayings of my mouth, And the meditation of my heart, Be for a pleasing thing before Thee, O Jehovah, my rock, and my redeemer! (YLT)

The sayings of my mouth.

Expressions that expose what I perceive to be truth and wisdom.

The meditation of my heart.

To earnestly, deeply think and to murmur with tenderness, evoking a strong emotional response.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you… (Psalm 42:1-6a – ESV)

My soul.
I remember.
I pour out my soul. I spill forth. I expend life, soul, complaint.
I remember praising, celebrating, feasting…
I pour out…
My tears have been my food day and night.
My soul is cast down. Sunken. Depressed.

My soul is in turmoil within me.

In turmoil. To make a loud sound, to hum, to give forth a confused, droning sound, to be in great commotion or tumult, to rage, war, moan, clamor, make an uproar, agitate greatly.1
My soul is in turmoil within me.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
O my soul, why are you in turmoil within me?

Do you identify with the psalmist’s description of the state of his soul? Turmoil. Thirst. Confusion. Chaotic, disorderly noise of unrest within?

What do you do when your soul is in this condition?

I tend to assume something is wrong with me and bottle everything up while I try to figure it out, so I can fix it, before it becomes common knowledge.
But the psalmists poured out their souls!
I pour out my soul. Spilling forth. Expending, using up, emptying. Complaining. To the Lord God.

What did the psalmist(s) do after pouring out and purging their souls?
My soul is cast down within me; therefore,
Therefore, I remember
I remember you, Lord God

Have you discovered this tool? “I remember you, Lord God!”

Remember means more than to recall; it means to retain in thought… as to meditate.

Retain: To hold or keep in possession; to keep in a fixed state or condition; to keep in mind.1

I remember you, Lord God. I hold you in my thoughts. I take and keep you as my own within myself. I keep you, I regard you, I celebrate you, I treasure you in a fixed state of affection and tenderness in my mind.

I confess that I did not hold and keep God in a fixed state of affection and tenderness in my mind and heart for much of my life. I didn’t believe that he held me and most of the world with affection and tenderness in his heart and mind either.

I discovered that this failure to remember God with affection and tenderness was the cause of the chaotic, disorderly noise of unrest in my soul.

So, what did David and the other psalmists know that I didn’t? What had they experienced that I hadn’t? How did the sayings of their mouth and the meditation of their heart differ from mine?

I think they knew their companions; the Lord Jesus Christ, God, Holy Spirit. They experienced the gifts each brought; grace, love, fellowship. They knew and trusted their companions because they remembered the Lord God! They retained him and his words and his thoughts and his deeds in a fixed state of affection and tenderness in their minds.

So, they could look around and within themselves and proclaim:

The Lord God is good!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever…
…he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever. (Ps 136 ESV)

I, on the other hand, could look around and within myself, and though I could see many of the good things the psalmists credited God with, I complained, “Yeah, yeah. But…!” I’d fix my attention on the one thing in the text that didn’t appear to be true. “There are starving people and animals, always! See, God does not give food to all flesh. It doesn’t appear that God’s love is steadfast at all times for all things and for all persons! How can I trust God’s word when what he says, and what I see and experience do not align? How can I believe his love when his actions often don’t appear to be loving toward many, me in particular?”

Listen to the sayings of my mouth! Become aware of the meditation of my heart!

Rather than holding the Lord God with affection and tenderness in my mind, I held an ever-growing list of accusations against him; what the Bible said and what I saw with my eyes, and personally experienced didn’t appear to align.

Of course, I was not seeing from the Lord God’s perspective! I was unable to see that God is kind in all his works. I was always judging everything as either good or bad. I could not reconcile my judgment with the word which states that God is kind in all his works, even, especially, those that I judge as unkind and unloving.

The Lord God reveals himself:

Isa 45:7 – I [Lord God] form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. (ESV)

And the psalmist whom God described as being “a man after my heart, who will do all my will,” (Acts 13:22) says of the Lord God:

Ps 145:17 – The Lord is righteous [right] in all his ways and kind in all his works. (ESV)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

To see from the Lord God’s perspective, maybe we need to start by following the psalmist(s) example. They went all the way back to the beginning, to creation in remembering the Lord God. They did not focus only on their personal circumstances or the events occurring during the few years of their own lives. They remembered the great wonders of the Lord God beginning with his making the heavens and the earth. They remembered his deeds and revelations to their forefathers and their nation. They remembered the Lord God’s promises of great works still to come. And they equated everything that the Lord God did with his steadfast love that endures forever.

How did David respond to the Lord God who forms light and creates darkness, makes well-being and creates calamity?

Ps 34:1 – I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (ESV)

What advice did the apostle Paul give as to how to respond to the Lord God who forms light and creates darkness, makes well-being and creates calamity?

1 Thess 5:18 – give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (ESV)

Rather than praise in my mouth continually, rather than blessing the Lord God at all times, rather than giving him thanks in all circumstances, I was trapped in misery by the perverse sayings of my mouth and the stubborn contrariness of the meditation of my heart. The Lord God was not meeting my expectations and assumptions!

Light. Darkness. Well-being. Calamity. The Lord God does all these things. For his steadfast love endures forever.

How does one hold both sides of paradox in tenderness? Plenty and lack. Laughing and mourning. Light and dark. Guilt and innocence. Gaining and losing. Health and suffering. Well-being and calamity. Good and evil. Vessel of wrath and vessel of mercy.

How do we hold and keep with tenderness the Mystery that is God, who persistently beckons yet eludes, delights and at the same time puzzles, wounds and heals as his righteousness, kindness and mercy nurture and support us while vessels of wrath are overcome as vessels of mercy are revealed?

I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it. (Ps 119:15-16 MSG)

I ponder. I attentively watch. I relish God’s word. I enjoy God’s word. I crave God’s word. I remember. I retain in thought with affection and tenderness.

And I plead, “When shall I come and appear before God? When shall I see God?

I’ve discovered that I can make my mouth speak words of praise, but I cannot make my heart praise. I did this for years. And I was miserable. But still I worked hard to keep my misery and failure bottled up in order to appear to be all that I thought God and everyone else expected of me.

Matt 15:8-9 – “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” (ESV)

That text described me perfectly! I can make myself read and study the words recorded in the Bible, but I can’t make myself enjoy or crave them.

How can I change the meditation of my heart?

I’ve discovered that I cannot do it. I, the vessel of wrath, cannot do it. The Lord God explains why I cannot do it:

Isa 55:8-9 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (ESV)

Is God asking the impossible of us? How can our hearts be brought into intimacy with the Lord God, so that we will worship from our heart, from the very center of who we are?

Matt 11:25-30 – At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls [breath, spirit]. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (ESV)

I’ve discovered that there is nothing I can do except become like a little child. Set aside everything I think I know. Set aside my actions. Set aside my stuff. And cry. Pour out my soul, all the hurt and anger and frustration and need that I don’t even understand. Then with tear-stained face, quivering lip, and open heart simply look up to my mother/father God with quiet anticipation to receive from them what I need. Remembering with affection and tenderness that they alone know how to comfort and guide me.

Come. Follow,” Jesus invites.
All who labor. To feel fatigue by hard work.2
All who are heavy laden. To load up, to overburden with ceremony or spiritual anxiety.3
I will give you rest. To repose. Be exempt. Refresh. Stop. Restrain. Quit. Desist. Come to an end.4
My yoke. To join. A coupling, i.e. servitude, the beam of the balance as connecting scales.5
My yoke is easy. Employed. Useful in manner or morals. To furnish what is needed.6
My burden is light. An invoice as part of freight. A task or service.7

Vessel of wrath. Vessel of mercy.

Which vessel are you familiar with? Which vessel are you relying on to relate with the Lord God?

Gal 5:18 – But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (ESV)

John 6:63 – It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (ESV)

I think Jesus is inviting us to stop working so hard to obey laws, to stop being spiritually anxious about meeting the standards of perfect love and perfect obedience through our own thoughts, strategies, and efforts. We can’t do it, vessel of wrath. Stop. Restrain. Quit. Desist. Come to an end. Come to an end of yourself.

The Lord Jesus is inviting us to become yoked to him spirit to Spirit. Repose. Rest. Be refreshed.

I have come to experience this rest and freedom through practicing contemplation. I study the word of God written in the Bible. I meditate, chew on it by murmuring it aloud, holding it with affection and tenderness in my mind. Then I move to contemplation. Contemplation is simply nurturing my soul by giving it undivided attention by setting aside judgments, thoughts, activity. Contemplation is being still. Silent. Waiting to receive Grace, Love, Fellowship.

I’ve discovered that through this contemplative exercise, I get glimpses of the Lord God, quick, momentary, fleeting, incomplete perceptions that fully satisfy and yet, at the same time, beckon me to keep seeking for a more complete, more detailed picture and experience. I get a sampling of tastes of him; savory, spicy, bitter, sweet, ordinary and exquisite morsels that delightfully hit the spot and yet, at the same time, create a craving to experience him more fully.

And I discover that it is not me who uses the words of the Lord God to fix myself, but it is the word of God itself that does the hard work of transforming my heart. All I need to do is place myself in a place of stillness and silence, so the word has space and opportunity to work, and Holy Spirit convicts, convinces, and helps me see from the Lord God’s perspective.

Heb 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (ESV)

I can’t depend on myself, my knowledge, understanding, or ways to make myself right and good, but I can stake my life and future on the words of the Lord God. Both the written word, and the Word, Jesus Christ, who is the meaning and the life in each and every word. Living. Active. Piercing. Discerning.

The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Luke 21:33 ESV)

“My words”

I’ve discovered that when what I see and hear and feel and experience cause me to doubt and fear and babble nonsense, I can cling to my Lord’s words in complete assurance. If I let my Lord’s words become the sayings of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, I am slowly changed from the inside out.

My
My words
My words will not pass away.
Remember!

“For I [Jehovah] will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” (Jer 31:25 ESV)

For his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord
For his love
For his steadfast love
For his steadfast love endures
For his steadfast love endures forever.

Interact with the words of Scripture through deep, careful study.

Then move beyond logic and reason; move from head to heart.

Meditate. Experience the word of Scripture bodily by moaning, growling, uttering, speaking aloud each word, syllable by syllable. Experience the words of Scripture expressing the longing and desire and hope in the depth of your own soul. Become acquainted with your longing. Anticipate that your soul’s longing will be satisfied, its hunger will be filled with good things, and it will be healed and made complete again. Let the inspired word of God arouse feelings of awe.

2 Cor 13:14 – the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, [is] with you all! Amen. (YLT)

Contemplate. Sit quietly without thinking, without murmuring. Simply be. Become conscious of your companions.

Stay in this place of rest and fellowship for as long as you can.

When finished, select just one word or phrase and carry it with you all day, thinking about it, murmuring it, holding it, treasuring it. Let it soak deep into your soul. Tomorrow, meditate on the entire text again. Select the same word or phrase or a different one to carry with you all day, thinking about it, murmuring it, holding it, treasuring it. Do this practice every day. Let God’s Word begin to fill your soul with good things.

I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it. (Ps 119:15-16 MSG)

 

 

But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. (Job 32:8)

I encourage you to look for ways and practices to help you become aware of Holy Spirit and to relinquish all that you have and all that you are to Holy Spirit’s convicting, enlightening, restorative ministrations.

A practice that has been life-changing for me comes from Psalm 46:10.

Ps 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (ESV)

Be still.
It’s a paradox.
Be still. A state of being. Am. Is. Stay, remain as in was, were.
It’s a process of letting go in order to rediscover Life that was forfeited.
It’s a process of ceasing, stopping, to be destroyed, and dying in order to be redeemed.
It’s a process of abandoning and neglecting in order to be healed and made whole.

It’s a process of opposing, contending, and striving in order to give up, renounce, leave, and abandon self-interest that is death, forfeiture of Life.

It’s a process of becoming weak, feeble, to be wept over in order to return to the original Life that was forfeited, but is bought back by the only One who has Life in himself.

Be still, consequently
Know

Know, not in the sense of accumulating facts and figures, receiving answers about what to do to get a good life, but know as in relationship. Know as in Being. Awareness, consciousness, discernment, recognition, acquaintance, familiar friend, feel, perceive, have respect, have understanding, instruction, presence, fellowship.

Be still.

Letting the vessel of wrath prepared for destruction go in order to know the riches of God’s glory for vessels of mercy.

2 Peter 3:18 – But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (ESV)

 

*****

Resources/For deeper study:

1To remember: A. Verb. Zakar OT:2142, “to remember, think of, mention.” This root is found in Assyrian, Aramaic, Arabic, and Ethiopic. The group of words (the verb and the three nouns derived from it) is found throughout the Old Testament. The first occurrence of zakar is in Gen 8:1 with God as the subject: “God remembered Noah…: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged.” In Gen 9:15 God said to Noah: “And I will remember my covenant…; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.” As in these two cases (cf. Gen 6:18), “remember” is used of God in respect to His covenant promises and is followed by an action to fulfill His covenant. God delivered Lot from Sodom because of His covenant with Abraham to bless all the nations through him Gen 18:17-33: “God remembered Abraham, and brought Lot out of the catastrophe…” Gen 19:29, NIV. This marks the history of Israel at every major point: “And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel,… and I have remembered my covenant…. and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians…” Ex 6:5-6. The promise “to remember” was repeated in the covenant at Sinai Lev 26:40-45, God’s remembrance was sung in the Psalms 98:3; 105:8,42; 106:45, and the promise was repeated by the prophets in regard to restoration from captivity Ezek 16:60. The new covenant promise is: “…I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” Jer 31:34.

Because of this God’s people pray, as Moses: “Turn from thy fierce wrath…. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest…” Ex 32:12-13; or Nehemiah: “Remember… the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses…” Neh 1:8, quoting Lev 26:33; or the psalmist: “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me…” Ps 25:7; or Jeremiah: “…remember, break not thy covenant with us” Jer 14:21.

Men also “remember.” Joseph said to Pharaoh’s butler: “But think on me…, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh…” Gen 40:14; NIV, “remember… and mention”. Again, “to remember” means more than “to recall”; it means “to retain in thought” so as to tell someone who can take action (cf. Ps 20:7). Zakar may have more specific connotations in certain circumstances: “Hear ye this, O house of Jacob,… which swear by the name of the Lord,… and make mention of the God of Israel…” Isa 48:1. The NASB and the NIV translate the last clause “and invoke the God of Israel”; and the RSV has “confess.” All point to the mention of God’s name in worship. David appointed “Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke… the Lord…” 1 Chron 16:4, RSV; NASB, “to celebrate”; NIV, “to make petition”.

The covenant commanded Israel to “remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt…” Ex 13:3; to “remember the sabbath day…” Ex 20:8; to “remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand…” Deut 5:15 and often; and to “remember his marvelous works…” Ps 105:5; cf. 1 Chron 16:15. But “the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies…” Judg 8:34; cf. Ps 78:42.

  1. Nouns. Zeker OT:2143, or zeker OT:2143, “remembrance; memorial.” Of His covenant name, YHWH (“Lord”), God said: “…this is my memorial unto all generations” Ex 3:15; cf. Ps 30:4; 135:13. The name would recall His acts of covenant fulfillment. Moses was told to write an account of the war with Amalek “for a memorial [zikkaron] in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance [zeker or zeker] of Amalek from under heaven” Ex 17:14.

The noun zikkaron has similar meanings. God gave the bronze plates covering the altar Num 16:40 and the heap of stones at the Jordan Josh 4:7,20-24 as perpetual “memorials” for the sons of Israel. The names of the twelve tribes of Israel were engraved on two stones that were attached to the ephod as “stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord…” Ex 28:12; cf. v. 29. When Israel went into battle, and when they offered sacrifice, they were to blow trumpets “that they may be to you for a memorial before your God” Num 10:9-10.

The noun °azkarah means “memorial offering” and it occurs primarily in Leviticus. “Memorials” were directed toward God. A “memorial” portion of each meal offering was burnt on the altar Lev 2:2,9,16, in other words a small portion in place of the whole amount.

The Septuagint translates these words by several derivatives from one root, mimnesko, by which the idea comes into the New Testament. Zechariah praised the Lord God that He had “raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David… and to remember his holy covenant…” Luke 1:69-73. Our need for a reminder is met in “This do in remembrance of me” 1 Cor 11:24-25. (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

2Labor: NT:2872 <START GREEK>kopia/w<END GREEK> kopiao (kop-ee-ah’-o); from a derivative of NT:2873; to feel fatigue; by implication, to work hard: (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

3Heavy laden: NT:5412 <START GREEK>forti/zw<END GREEK> phortizo (for-tid’-zo); from NT:5414; to load up (properly, as a vessel or animal), i.e. (figuratively) to overburden with ceremony (or spiritual anxiety): (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

4Will give rest: NT:373 <START GREEK>a)napau/w<END GREEK> anapano (an-ap-ow’-o); from NT:303 and NT:3973; (reflexively) to repose (literally or figuratively [be exempt], remain); by implication, to refresh:

NT:3973 <START GREEK>pau=w<END GREEK> pauo (pow’-o); a primary verb (“pause”); to stop (transitively or intransitively), i.e. restrain, quit, desist, come to an end: (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

5Yoke: NT:2218 <START GREEK>zugo/$<END GREEK> zugos (dzoo-gos’); from the root of zeugnumi (to join, especially by a “yoke”); a coupling, i.e. (figuratively) servitude (a law or obligation); also (literally) the beam of the balance (as connecting the scales): (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

6Easy: NT:5543 <START GREEK>xrhsto/$<END GREEK> chrestos (khrase-tos’); from NT:5530; employed, i.e. (by implication) useful (in manner or morals):

NT:5530 <START GREEK>xra/omai<END GREEK> chraomai (khrah’-om-ahee); middle voice of a primary verb (perhaps rather from NT:5495, to handle); to furnish what is needed; (give an oracle, “graze” [touch slightly], light upon, etc.), i.e. (by implication) to employ or (by extension) to act towards one in a given manner: (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

7Burden: NT:5413 <START GREEK>forti/on<END GREEK> phortion (for-tee’-on); diminutive of NT:5414; an invoice (as part of freight), i.e. (figuratively) a task or service: (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

2 thoughts on “I Remember

  1. Thank you Sharon for your blog. They give me hope that maybe I can navigate this world with the Lord’s help

    1. With the Lord’s help is key! I didn’t get that for the first 2/3 of my life. It’s in finally understanding how he loves me that I can also love him and the world. I don’t do it well, but the secret, I think, is learning to more and more rest in his love. God bless!

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