There are so many powerful ways to pray and receive grace from the Lord. Jeff Duncan unfolds for us what the Bible teaches about the power of remembering God's feats of the past in our lives, as a wonderful way to become strengthened for the moment we are living in.
A time to scatter and pick up stones - REALLY?
One of my favorite songs is the 60’s Byrd’s song, Turn, turn, turn. It’s based on Ecclesiastes 3 which begins “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” There’s a long list of life’s activities: birth, death, planting, uprooting, killing, healing, love, hate, war, peace and many more. It’s clear what all these activities are except for two phrases. Verse 5 says that there is “a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them”. What does that mean? Are we to go around throwing stones and picking them up? What? What value could there possibly be in that and how could that possibly be in a list of life’s most important activities? Well, the understanding comes with the cultural context. The Jewish people would have understood the symbolism of stones. God instructed Joshua in Joshua 4:5 to set up stones of remembrance after the children of Israel crossed the Jordan. To scatter stones is a metaphor to forgot and to pick up stones means to remember.
Remember your exodus from Egypt
To scatter stones means that we are to forget the things God wants us to forget, such as our forgiven sins, and our past failures. To pick up stones means that we are to remember. God has a lot to say about remembrance. There are many scriptures where God asks us to remember his works. When the children of Israel feared the giants in the promised land ahead of them, he said in Deut. 7:18 “But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.” God knew that the children of Israel would gain strength to walk ahead in faith as they remembered how God had come through for them before. We too overcome our fears by remembering what God has done for us in the past.
Do I start with a mountain top experience or a valley experience?
I was first introduced to the power of memory several years ago through the teachings of Dr. Karl Lehman, and his Immanuel Approach to Inner healing. (See Immanuelapproach.com).
Many healing ministries teach on inviting Jesus to walk into traumatic memories but Dr. Lehman begins the healing process with asking the recipient to start from a joy memory to connect to Jesus. Dr. Lehman has found that some people are so traumatized that to even ask to go back to a traumatic memory is overwhelming. So instead he begins the healing process from a joy memory to come into God’s presence. One analogy is that the dark places of our soul are like the valley and the loving presence of Jesus is the mountain top. Instead of beginning in the valley and asking Jesus to come into the valley, let’s go to the mountain top with Jesus and let’s hold his hand as he takes us where he wants to take us. If He wants to take us to the dark valley, we go there. I have personally seen deep healing in myself and others using this method. I have received and been involved in healing ministry for 30 years and found this approach to inner healing very significant and fruitful.
As well, the practice of memory has been a significant method of coming into his presence and of receiving revelation. Using the mountain and valley analogy, once I am on the mountain top with Jesus He will take me many places, not just the valley. Many who teach on this will use the term “joy memory”. We go to a joy memory. Just like the children of Israel got the strength to face the giants ahead of them, when we remember what God has done for us, we get strength to go forward. This is joy giving us strength; truly the joy of the Lord giving us strength.
Remembering is faith building and brings us into his presence
To actively go to a memory, we simply choose to remember a personal “exodus” we have had; a time where God delivered us, just like the exodus of Egypt for the children of Israel, or we may choose to remember a healing we have had, or our baptism in the Holy Spirit, or a financial miracle we have had or any other encouraging joyful memory. God instructed us to do this practice regularly as the following scriptures indicate:
Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. Duet 32:7
I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. Ps 143:5
Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. Isa 46:9
And we are to tell our children what we remember as well.
Set up stones … as a remembrance .. Tell your children Josh 4:3-7
And in one of our most sacred sacraments, communion, we are instructed to remember:
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Cor 11:24
Remembrance is faith building and brings us into his presence.
“Lord bring back a memory …”
I always love it to have the Lord leading me in everything I do, so instead of simply choosing to remember, we turn to the Author and Perfector of our Faith and ask Him, “Jesus would you bring back to me a memory to encourage me now? Would you take me to a joy memory now?”
Will I call this a “joy memory” or a “memory to encourage me”
Many using this method use the term “joy memory.” I will use this term but I also to use the term, “a memory to encourage me” because in using the term “joy memory” with others, I have found some people have a wrong idea of what joy is. For many years myself, I had an improper understanding of what joy was. When I thought of joy, I thought happy-clappy, dancing, smile-on-my-face joy. I thought that was the joy we are to have. Yes, that is joy, but that is only one expression of joy. There is a complete spectrum of joy. In John 5:11 when Jesus prays for us to have “complete joy” I believe this to mean, not only exuberant overwhelming joy (what I call roller coaster joy) but also peaceful calm-if-I-say-a-word-it-would-spoil-it-right-now-sunset joy. And we are to experience every other expression of joy that would be on the spectrum between these two extremes. I have found Jesus often brings peaceful, calming, encouraging memories to my mind. These I would call “sunset” moments of joy. In fact I find that the peaceful joy is what I can live in the longest. Roller coaster joy can only be sustained for so long.
So I have found that in encouraging others to go to a memory, sometimes when I use the term, “joy memory” many people may get stuck, as I would have previously, thinking that joy only means exuberant joy. So I use both the phrases, “joy memory” and “memory to encourage me.”
Remembering works for inner healing and so much more
I have seen Jesus meet many people in significant ways using this method in inner healing sessions but this method is not only for the inner healing session. I will do this regularly as a way for me to connect to the Lord and get his encouragement. I simply ask “Jesus would you bring me to a memory to encourage me?” He is so faithful to answer this prayer. Let me tell you a few of my stories (I have dozens!):
Testimony - My memory of being Tarzan!
Several years ago, at an Immanuel Approach to inner healing seminar, the instructor David Bamford (fathersheart.ca) , a Christian counsellor from Edmonton, Alberta was teaching us to connect to God’s presence through memory. After asking the simple question, “Jesus would you bring back a joy memory to me?”, instantly the Lord took me to a memory when I was about 10 years old. I had not thought about this memory since it had happened. I remembered being down by the river of my hometown, Stratford, Ontario. There are several large weeping willow trees along the water’s edge. Seeing the large vines that draped over the water, I imagined myself Tarzan and decided to grab one of the vines and swing out over the water, intending to swing out over the water and swing back . Well, I swung out but as I reached the apex, the branch broke and I fell into the water, getting soaked from head to toe in my running shoes and clothes. I sheepishly walked home to my mother who was not too pleased with her adventurous son. I remember it taking several days for my running shoes to dry out.
This memory is suppossed to encourage me???
“This is a memory to encourage me?” I thought, “How could this be encouraging?” This memory was about failure!” The branch broke! I got all wet. Mom wasn’t too pleased! Thankfully David had instructed us that when God brings us a memory, we recognize some memories instantly being encouraging and joyful but some memories when they come back to us do not appear to be encouraging or joyful. In those cases when we don’t understand the memory, we need to ask God, “Lord, why did You bring this memory back?” We can also ask, “Lord what is Your perspective on this memory, or where were You in this memory?”
Conversing with the Lord brought me revelation
So I then asked the Lord, “why did you bring back this memory?” Instantly I heard Him ask me this, “Do you remember the moment of swinging just before the branch broke?” This question arrested me. I thought, “What? Remember the swinging? No, I don’t remember that!” But I knew enough that if God was asking me if I remembered, He wanted me to remember, so I took a moment, and went back into the memory and focused on the second where I was flying through the air before the branch broke. As I tried, yes, I could actually remember that moment and also the exhilaration I had felt for that very brief moment! I asked the Lord, what this was all about. He then spoke to me. “That moment of exhilaration, that thrill of adventure is the joy I want you to live in regularly! My son I don’t want you to live in the shame of regret, but the joy of adventure.” Wow. These words undid me! My memory of this event was focused on the branch breaking and my drenched clothing and my mother’s disapproving reception, but God was asking me to focus on the thrill of adventure! Wow.
CHOOSE: Do I gaze at broken branches in my life or swinging vines?
This memory was a microcosm of my life. In so many ways when I look at my life, I look at all the broken branches in my life, rather than the swinging joyful adventure! This experience has been a point of reference for me to go back to over and over again reminding me to live in adventure, risk and joy, not regret, shame or failure. I go back to this memory regularly and get strength and joy and encouragement each time I do. One time when I went back to the memory I asked where Jesus was and He was there with me! He was celebrating with me! Another time, instead of the branch breaking this time, the two of us flew off together into the air and we had a joyful time flying through the air!
My mind is renewed as I remember
I’ve had many encouraging, joyful and revelatory times with Jesus through memory. I will regularly engage with the Lord choosing to remember and asking Him to remind me even as I am going about my daily activities or driving my car. I can do this regularly. When I remind myself or the Lord reminds me, my mind is being renewed or re-minded!
More Examples of Remembrance Strengthening Me
You can do it
A few years back I was about to lead worship for a large event and I was nervous. I asked the Lord if he had a memory to encourage me. Instantly the Lord reminded of a time many years previously when I had led worship for a very large event. I also remembered the kind words of encouragement that a respected and mature leader who had been in many worship events spoke to me after I had led this event. She told me that the worship event I had just led was one of the most significant worship events she had ever participated in. Wow! Very high praise! I had forgotten completely about this big success I had had in my life; this exodus moment in my life, so to speak. I had needed the Lord to remind me. Just like the children of Israel remembering the crossing of the red sea gave them courage that God would come through for them again, I was instantly filled with encouragement. God would come through for me for the upcoming worship leading event. And He did!
I have found that there are several past victories, successes and joyful times in my life that I have forgotten about or didn’t realize that God was so involved in.
More than enough
Just this morning I asked the Lord to bring me to a memory. Right away I was back at summer camp as a teenage camp counsellor, a job that I would describe as one of the best jobs I ever had. I asked the Lord why He brought this to mind. He spoke so clearly to an issue that is heavy on my heart right now. He said to me, “I was the one who brought you to camp Bimini. You forgot that you were only paid $50/week back then. That wasn’t a lot of money even back then. You didn’t do it for the pay, you did it because you loved it. You loved the kids, you loved the experiences and you loved the fellow staff members. The joy of being in the right place at the right time. This is that. Yes.” Actually I had forgotten that! Wow! This is exactly what I needed right now as I have been worried by my finances, currently using up some savings to cover over a lean time financially in our lives. I have been grumbling and anxious about my current income. God, through this memory, is asking me to trust him, that the income is not the most important. If I focus on the wrong thing, I will lose my joy.
God is so faithful to answer the prayer, “Lord would you bring back a memory to encourage me.” Jesus is the author or initiator of my faith. He loves to initiate in my life. Over and over again He has reminded me of things I have forgotten and used these memories to give me courage, revelation and strength. Truly being in joy gives us strength.
How To Connect With The Lord Through Memory
- Identify the memory: Ask the Lord, “Lord would you bring to me a memory right now to encourage me.” Tune to flowing thoughts and flowing pictures and honor what pops into your mind. Alternatively, you could choose to remember a joyful memory.
- Enter the Memory: Once a memory comes, enter into the memory. Take the time to experience the memory. See it.
- Tune into your emotions. So many of us have our emotions shut down. Ask yourself, “what am I feeling?” God will often bring us a certain emotion in the present by taking us to a memory of an emotion we have felt in the past. For example, we need peace, so he takes us to peaceful memory. We may need comfort, or courage, or rest, or assurance or …
- Ask Jesus to walk into the memory. Open the eyes of your heart to see Jesus. Turn to the spontaneous flow of thoughts. These thoughts will be God responding to your question.
- In the memory, ask him, “Lord why did you bring this memory to mind now? Is there anything I need to know that I didn’t know back then?”
- Repeat: Go back to the memory regularly for deeper revelation, encouragement and experiences.
Let's pick up stones and build an altar of remembrance of what the Lord has done in our lives
When the Lord encourages us through memory, we are dealing with things we have lived through; solid things in our lives. In 1 John 1: John says that he writes about “ those things which our hands have touched.” We remember the joyful, encouraging events and successes in our lives that our hands have touched, things that we have experienced and lived through. These are solid things, like stones in our lives. … a time to pick up stones.
P.S. Discover 40+ Ways to Pray. All are Biblical! All release Spirit Life! Be radiant and healed and ready to give grace to others. Have a full quiver of various effective ways to pray.