The Israelites were terribly forgetful. We know this because we can trace their story through Scripture. One minute God is parting the Red Sea, the next minute they are crying because the water is bitter. Did they forget that water is no obstacle for the great I AM?
And their memories of Egypt! They forget the cruelty, the bricks without straw, and instead remember the fish and the melons. Is freedom truly any comparison to a bit of food variety?
No, memory was not their greatest quality.
But it wasn’t just a bad memory, it was slave-thinking, which is twisted. Reality is obscured and you end up forgetting what frees you forever and remembering what was sweet only for a moment.
But this was no surprise to God. So, there in the wilderness, He begins to teach them something new. Something called worship.
And worship, it turns out, begins with remembering.
Remember how the Lord your God led you…” (Deuteronomy 8:2 niv)
God taught the Israelites something Biblical scholars call “Covenant Recital.” Which is a fancy way of saying, He taught them to remember. Over and over they were instructed to recite their story. How God showed up and led them out of Egypt. From the plagues to the Passover to the Red Sea to the manna to the bitter water turned sweet. They were to tell the story to their children, to their friends, to their neighbors, to their children’s children. To write it on the doorposts of their homes.
There in the midst of a wilderness where they were helpless but for Him, God instructed them in the rawest form of worship.
And the reason was simple: you cannot offer reverent honor or respect unless you are in awe. And you cannot be in awe, unless you remember what God has done.
So they began reciting the story. They started making altars-of-remembrance, partaking in carefully constructed feasts, and as they did, they began to worship.
In the middle of my wilderness God told me to write down my story. I was still battling some days, still fighting off the slave mentality that haunted me, but that did not change the need for my heart to learn true worship. So I began writing and my mind was freed from the lingering lies. Those weeks that I spent immersed in my story, hunting through journals, writing until the wee hours of the morning… those were days of raw, bone-deep worship.
I remembered and I was in awe.
Do you remember the name God gave to Moses? The name Moses then gave to the Israelite people? God told them His name is “I AM,” which means: the-God-Who-Is-Actively-Present. In Moses life, in their lives, in my life, in our lives. God is present and active. But we’ll forget if we don’t take time to worship, if we don’t take time to remember.
“When the story is told, it happens again.” -Marion Bontrager
Do you want to learn worship?
Then learn to remember, to recite. Read through Scripture and take note of the things God does. Repeat them to yourself. Look back through your life and pay attention to the things God has done for you. Repeat them. Over and over. Tell your children, your friends, your neighbors, your children’s children. Write them on the doorposts of your home.
There are more ways to worship than just reciting the story, but every form of worship begins with remembering.
The songs we sing in church? They are memories.
Hungry, I come to you, for I know you satisfy…” – Hungry (falling on my knees)
How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only son, and make a wretch His treasure.” –How Deep The Father’s Love
My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.” – It is Well with my Soul
In the wilderness, we are invited to learn worship. We are invited to take deep breaths and remember. And we are invited to tell the story. For when we share the story, it happens again.
Remember, dear ones, remember what He has done.
Lessons From The Wilderness part one: HOW TO LEARN TO TRUST GOD part two: HOW TO LEARN SERVANT LEADERSHIP