Today is not just a day for hot dogs, lemonade, and cornhole … but a time to remember those who have gone before; those who sacrificed their youth, their blood, and even their lives so that we might enjoy the freedoms we have today. Tomorrow is also, most importantly, a time to thank God for these men, and women, and freedoms. As Israel periodically set up stones and pillars in various places, reminding them of the kindnesses of God in times past, so it is good that we deliberately remind ourselves of His blessings. Memorial Day, therefore, is one of our national Ebenezer stones, if you will – a marker that we pass by once a year, which urges us to pause and give thanks.
But these thoughts of our national day of remembrance got me thinking: ‘Wow! The Bible is actually filled with calls to remember various things’ – mighty acts of God; commandments; warning signs; and so on. Let me remind you of a few of these calls to “remember”:
Remember the sabbath, to keep it holy (Exodus 20.8). Every Sunday is a kind of Ebenezer stone, set up to remind us of God’s work in creation … and particularly of Christ’s resurrection from the dead on the first day of the week. This is why we rest and worship on the Lord’s Day … so that we have time to “remember” all that God has done for our souls!
Remember your creator in the days of your youth (Ecclesiastes 12.1). How easy it is for young people to ‘sow their wild oats,’ and to think that following the Lord is something they will begin to do in middle age. But what if you never reach middle age? And what of the fact that, at middle age, your energies for serving the Lord will be significantly depleted? And what of the fact that the wild oats we sow in youth may be very difficult to root out, once we finally decide to serve the Lord? Rather than waiting to serve the Lord, then – and filling our past with all sorts of bad memories – let us “remember” our Creator while we are still young!
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you (Hebrews 13.7) … “and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” Do you ever stop to do that … to thank God for parents, Sunday School teachers, elders, and pastors who consistently pointed you to the cross, and down the narrow path beyond? And do you remember them, specifically, so that you might “imitate their faith”? That is not the express purpose of Memorial Day, of course … but it might not be a bad addendum to your plans!
Remember Lot’s wife (Luke 17.32). So said Jesus. Remember how God offered her rescue from the destruction about to rain down on Sodom and Gomorrah. Remember how reluctant she was to leave her home and her worldly pleasures. Remember how she looked back at the world, longingly (as we are so sorely tempted to do). Remember how she was turned into a pillar of salt. And don’t look back yourself. “Remember” her fate, and put your own hand to the plough, and follow Jesus with all your heart!
Remember the prisoners (Hebrews 13.3). Specifically, “remember the prisoners” who are in prison because of their faith in Jesus. Don’t forget, this Memorial Day, that there are nations in the world where Christians do not have the freedoms we celebrate, and where pastors are taken from their churches and fathers from their homes for preaching the same things I preach, and sitting in the same kinds of services you sit in. “Remember” them, pray for them, and help them!
Do this in remembrance of Me (Luke 22.19). That was Jesus’ command regarding the broken bread and the poured wine of the Lord’s Supper. This is the great Ebenezer Stone of the Christian faith! This is the great, Christian Memorial Day – recalling and thanking God for the one who sacrificed His blood and even His very life so that we might enjoy freedom from sin and condemnation! The Lord’s body was broken so that we might be free! His blood was spilt so that we might be set at liberty! And so we must never fail to “remember” Him – in the Lord’s Supper, and in every moment of every other day!
So this Memorial Day, as you rightly remember God’s kindnesses to our nation (and thank Him for them), let this day of remembrance also be a reminder of just how much we really have been given, on so many different fronts; and how important it is, on so many levels, that we “remember”.