One of the aspects of being a Christian that I find tricky is remembering it. I don’t mean in the big sense, but in the everyday hustle and bustle of working life. I sometimes find that I’ve gone the whole day without any particular reference to God. Other days I’m very “tuned in”, and keep firing up short little
arrow prayers, and know just the right things to say, and can feel like I’m spending time with Him even in the midst of debugging code.
Why does it matter if you remember God or not? I guess there’s a couple of reaons… Firstly is because Christians believe we have a daily intimate relationship with God. If I was to generally ignore my wife, except for 5 minutes in the morning when I delivered a monolog on what I was thinking and feeling, our marriage would soon fall apart.
Secondly, prayer changes the pray-er. If my thoughts are on God and Jesus, my actions and choices will be influenced. It helps take me outside myself and my self-centredness. I become more Christ-like, if you like (which is, after all, the ultimate goal).
This principle was recognised in the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 6 (my emphasis):
6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Isn’t that a great image? Everytime you come in or go out of your house, there is the word of the Lord, reminding you of him.
I heard a sermon on this subject at HTB once, which considered what might be contemporary equivalents of
writing it on the doorposts, which I’ll list here (plus one or two of my own).
It’s a great habit to write verses on a post-it note, and stick it somewhere you’ll come across it. Bathroom mirror, inside a cupboard, wallet. I used to stick them in my diary, so when I opened it I’d come across a promise of God, or something I felt he’d said to me. Even better, you could then collect them up into one place as a sort of corpus of communication.
I have a friendship bracelet that is made up of little white fishes on a blue background (it’s an icthus thing – go Google if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about). When I wear it, each time I feel it or spot it on my wrist, it reminds me of whose I am. The WWJD/PUSH/… bracelets are a similar idea.
Crosses / jewelery
I have a wooden cross on a leather necklace which I wear sometimes. This has the advantage of being hidden under clothes so doesn’t undermine professionalness or dress-codes. Necklaces are particularly good because you feel them against your chest, for example when you lean forward. You can also finger them through clothes.
Possibly my favourite. Choose a password which is based on a bible passage or verse. The best passwords (IMO) are mnemonic based, with a heathly dose of numbers, punctuation, and mixed case. A secular example, you might choose
Strawberry fields for everas your mnemonic, which would make the password
SF4ever!. Obviously it needs to be a memorable verse, so I don’t want to publish really good examples – but a few random passages password-ized:
- Rev 22 v 21
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.might become
Rev2221-TgotLJ(quite a long one that one!)
- From Psalm 23
The Lord’s my shepherdmight be
- Or some liturgy
For you alone are the Holy One, You alone are the Lordgoes to
This is an excellent approach because the resulting passwords are immune to dictionary attack, but easible memorable. Best of all, every day the very first thing you do at work (and each time you have to unlock your screen) you mentally recite a verse of scripture.
The same approach can be used with Hotmail, Facebook, etc (as long as you choose different passwords for each!!)
Some good substitutions are:
- For – 4
- One – 1
- O (Oh) – 0 (zero)
- You – U or u
- S – $ or 5
- Rev 22 v 21
Rituals / habits / Liturgy
Probably the principle way we remember God is through ritual, specifically thinking about the Last Supper. But you can build little
God slotsinto your day. For instance, every time I get into the car, before I start the engine I will say a prayer. Or everytime I put on the kettle. If you’re at work, going to the loo is a good chance to refocus. Sounds a bit weird, but it’s something that happens everyday, and is usually away from clamour and watching eyes. Shut the door, close your eyes and go “Thank God”, and then go about your business.
Like it or not, we are all creatures of habits, and we all have our little liturgies for how we go about things (whether spiritual or not).
Probably any of the spiritual discipline would do, but I personally find fasting the most immediate, when I do it. You get an on and off reminder all day, whenever there’s a little pang of hunger.
Why am I hungry? Oh yes, that’s right.
So I hope some of this is helpful. It’s stuff I’ve found very helpful over the last 10 or 15 years, and continue to find helpful.
And – even the mighty Wombles needed reminding sometimes to remember who they are:
When it’s foggy on the common
And you just can’t see
And I womble into you
And you womble into me.
Just remember we’re so lucky
To be womblin’ free.
Remember ‘member member
What a womble womble womble you are.