Scripture Reading: Exodus 13:1-16
If you could live any day of your life over again―because it was so memorable―which day would you re-live? For me, I’d pick November 19th, 1988, the day I asked my wife, Lana, to marry me. It was perfect in every way, even including the brief rain shower that fell on us while we rode paddle boats at the Houston Zoo.
Some dates are so memorable that we think we’ll never forget them. But as time passes, and life takes its unexpected turns, we can sometimes forget, or simply devalue, what God has done for us in the past. And when we forget, we tend to quickly lose ground on any freedom we had gained up to that point.
In the last ten lessons of this study, we looked at how the Israelites were finally able to get free from their bondage. In the next ten lessons, we’re going to look at how to stay free, which can be just as important as getting free in the first place.
The first lesson for staying free is this: mark the date. Make a point to deliberately remember, from year to year, just what God has done for you. And not only for you to remember, but as an opportunity to remind those around you what God has done for you, too.
Here’s what God told the Israelites to do in Exodus chapter 13:
“Then Moses said to the people, ‘Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand … You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year … In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery’ … and it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”
God knew what the Israelites would be facing in the future. He knew that they may one day wonder if they had made the wrong decision, if maybe they should turn around and go back to Egypt, back into bondage. But if they could simply remember this night and the miraculous deliverance they experienced that could only be attributed to the hand of God, they would have the faith to keep moving forward – faith to endure any obstacle in the future.
Some people scoff at holidays, thinking they serve no purpose except to give people a day off of work. But to those who use these “holy” days well, they can be powerful reminders of what God has done, and provide “staying power” for those who have been set free.
Here in the United States, we celebrate a holiday called Thanksgiving, a day that was established when the first people who came to this land from overseas wanted to remember all that God had done for them. They had lost much in the process of coming to America, including many loved ones who didn’t survive the trip and their first few months here. But rather than despair over what they had lost, they gave thanks for what they had found.
The day before I wrote this lesson was November 19th. Throughout the day, I took time to remember what happened on the day I proposed to Lana. I told my kids about it. I told her brother about it. I told her Dad about it. I bought her flowers. I love to re-live that day in my mind for myself, and out loud for others, because I want to continually remember throughout my life what God has done for me.
Are you struggling to stay free? Wondering if it might be better to head back to Egypt? If so, try taking some time this week to remember some of the things God has done for you in the past. Mark those dates on your calendar. Celebrate them every year. Let them be “like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead” of all that the Lord has done for you.
Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.