By John Certalic
Driving to church on Christmas Eve, I heard gentle jangling from the seat next to me. I glanced to my right to see Janet’s fingers fumbling with her charm bracelet, something she had not worn in a very long time. As she fondled each charm from her teenage years, like she was praying the rosary, Janet reminded me of the significance of each one.
“This one I got at Gettysburg on our senior class trip. And here’s another from when I was editor of our school newspaper. Oh, and here’s one with a picture of you when you had hair. Take a look.”
I was driving. Even if I wasn’t driving I couldn’t look. I didn’t need to be reminded.
Janet stopped collecting charms long ago, but she holds a special fondness for them. Each charm on her bracelet is a pleasant reminder of the 60’s, the decade that gave us bell-bottom pants, miniskirts…and each other.
A different kind of remembering is described in the Bible, specifically in Deuteronomy 8. Seven times in this passage Moses tells the people of Israel to remember where they have come from and where they are going. Its purpose goes beyond savoring sweet, nostalgic memories. It is remembering that keeps us humble in both the battles and blessings of life.
Moses reminds his people to remember that no matter how difficult life was in the past, God was always there for them. He led them through some very dark days to see what they were made of, to improve their character, and to keep them humble and dependent upon him.
Conversely, Moses reminds Israel that even the blessings of life are designed to humble us. When they start to think the good life has come to them because of their own intelligence, skill, or hard work they must think again. For it is only God who gives us intelligence, who equips us with ingenuity, and who enables us to create wealth. God wants us to remember that the blessings of life are from him, not because we created them ourselves. He alone is the source of our blessings. May we all remember as the Israelites were called to remember.
Our life becomes much more meaningful when we remember God’s participation in it. Being fully aware of God’s active involvement in all our struggles and successes gives him the glory and shines a light on him, which is where it belongs in thinking about where we have come from, where we are now, and where we are headed.