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The Power of Remembering By R. Scott Rodin

Remembering What Mattered Most

As the year draws to an end, we have a once-a-year opportunity to look back over the previous 12 months and remember, relive, (and possibly try to forget) the events that shaped our journey that was 2022. We do this in different ways.

Perhaps some of us will go to our journal to page through the days, remembering how God answered prayer, how he was with us in our struggles and challenges, and how he displayed his faithfulness in our lives. Others may recall the problematic moments this year when our faith was challenged, and God seemed far away. Indeed, for all of us, there were mountaintops and valleys and lots of average days in between.

Biblical Practice

I want to encourage you not to miss the value in these times of remembering. I was surprised to learn that the word ‘remember occurs over 231 times in scripture. It’s a major theme throughout the Bible where God calls his people in times of fear and challenge to look back and remember all he had done for them.

The night before his crucifixion, Jesus instituted the Eucharist with the command that every time we eat and drink, we would remember his death until he comes. We celebrate that hallowed sacrament with the words, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

You can hear the same theme in the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 124 when he proclaimed, “If the Lord had not been on our side—
    let Israel say—
Two if the Lord had not been on our side
    when people attacked us,
Three they would have swallowed us alive
    when their anger flared against us;
Four the flood would have engulfed us,
    the torrent would have swept over us,
Five the raging waters
    would have swept us away.

Praise be to the Lord,
    who has not let their teeth tear us?
We have escaped like a bird
    from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
    and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

Perhaps the most potent demonstration of the importance of remembering came from the prophet Samuel. Here again, the story in 1 Samuel 7:10-12:

10 While Samuel sacrificed the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day, the Lord thundered with thunder against the Philistines. He threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar. 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far, the Lord has helped us.”

Laying down an ‘Ebenezer stone’ in our lives is a powerful way to end 2022. By doing so, we proclaim that for all that we have gone through in the previous year, thus far, the Lord has helped us. Why

Why It Matters Today

Let me suggest that remembering in these ways will work two essential things in our lives. First, remembering keeps us from self-reliance. When we look back at those moments when God’s faithfulness was our lifeline, God’s provision was our daily bread, and when the power of God in our lives is all that kept us going, it keeps us focused on the right things. Indeed, we will see many places where God worked in us and through us to bring about his good and perfect will, but it was always him. That’s the value of remembering; it throws us back on God and total reliance on his faithfulness and provision.

The second way remembering works well is to keep us from discouragement. Samuel laid down his Ebenezer stone so the children of Israel would remember that no matter what lay ahead, the same God who got them here would get them there. I would encourage you to write down at least five specific moments in 2022 when God overcame an obstacle, answered an urgent prayer, and delivered you from a seemingly impossible situation. Let these be your Ebenezer stones, reminding you that as the calendar turns to January 1, 2023, you can look ahead to a future with the same powerful, faithful, loving, providing God who got you here.

Celebrate God’s Faithfulness

Finally, as you create for yourself your own Ebenezer stones, as you identify and celebrate God’s faithfulness in your life through 2022, you must share these with your family, your children, and, if you have them, your grandchildren. This is an opportunity at the end of the year to pass along a generational blessing by helping those around you remember and celebrate all that God has done in their lives. You can use these days to lead your family in identifying your own Ebenezer stones and proclaim God’s goodness even amid all of the struggles in our world. You can do it for your colleagues at work, your board, your community at church, and every life you touch.

We all desperately need good news, hope, and a vision for a brighter future. How better to share that good news with the world around us than to anchor it on the solid rock of a God in whom we can proclaim with all our heart, “thus far he has helped us.” May he continue to call you into a life of faithfulness and service that will be rich and meaningful and advance his Kingdom for his glory throughout 2023.

Happy New Year!


R. Scott Rodin is the Senior Consultant/Chief Strategy Officer for The Focus Group. Over the past thirty-eight years, Scott Rodin has helped hundreds of organizations improve their effectiveness in leadership, fund development, strategic planning, and board development. Be sure to read Dr. Rodin’s newest book is titled, The Greater Mission.


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