I get a lot of stick from friends and family any time I mention the K word. That would be K for Kenya. So many of my stories begin, “When I was in Kenya . . ” and I know I drive everyone mad. In fact I don’t anymore, I’ve learned to keep those stories for myself. Or at the very least to swap in the word Africa occasionally, or just tell the story without the need for geographical context.
But I won’t forget my time in Kenya.
Some of it, yes, is getting lost in the fogs of time, but there are other stories that I need to treasure and keep hold of. Some that shape my today and my tomorrow, stories that remind me who I am, where I have come from and the astonishing journey God has taken me on.
The Israelite equivalent of my K-word was the E-word. E for Egypt. They refer to it all the time. And not just the Israelites who’d actually set foot in the place, their sons and daughters, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even today Jews still remember. Generations of God’s people keeping the memories alive of the escape from Egypt. The stories that remind them who they are, where they have come from and the astonishing journey God took them on.
There are over dozens of mentions in the Bible of the “God who brought us out of Egypt”. It’s how God introduced his code of living; the ten commandments. They didn’t start with the do’s and don’ts, they started with “Remember.”
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.” God reminded His people who He was so that they would trust Him to know what was best for them.
We need to treasure our stories; write them down, tell them to our children, pass the message on. We need to store up the times when we felt God’s presence like we could touch it, the times when we heard his voice more clearly than our own, the days and weeks when he rescued us from situations that seemed impossible.
Those memories will sustain us on the days when it feels like we can’t find Him, can’t hear Him, start to wonder if He’s really there. And we ALL have those days. The days that we doubt are the days that we need those memories most; when we need to reminisce and tell ourselves again what God has done for us.
When we allow ourselves to forget, we stray, just like Israelites of old. In Psalm 78, Asaph writes:
They did not remember his power—
the day he redeemed them from the oppressor,
the day he displayed his signs in Egypt,”
When we write God out of our history we start to believe we did it all ourselves; that is a dangerous place to live. Independence is given great value in our culture, but it’s not what we were created for. We were created for interdependence. We were created to walk with each other, and we were created to walk with God, hand in hand.
God gave us brains capable of storing vast amounts of information, but we need to give priority to the stuff that gives us life. We need to look back at our history and ask God to open our eyes to where He has been at each stage of our life; where He was in the pain and the suffering, how He worked a situation out. Ask Him to show you where He was in the joy and celebration and remember.
Remember the stories, look back at them often so that you can find strength for today and look with hope and confidence to tomorrow.