The sun was shining so brightly that I had to squint even with my sunglasses. It was one of those bright blue days – except I couldn’t manage to pay attention to the color of the sky.
The last few months had been hard on my heart. It was like the waves of an ocean had pummeled my heart, over and over, and I was left bruised, tender, and apathetic. My soul frothed and foamed with overwhelm, like the relentless churn of the ocean’s tide. I was in a rental car, driving five hours to preach at a conference in the capital city of Canada, but all I could think about was how tired and numb I felt from this past spring.
I felt frayed at the edges, like a garment with a loose string – and if I pulled the string, I would unravel.
Drowning or unraveling in overwhelm isn’t fun. Or was it overwhelm? Maybe it was sadness? Or numbness? I couldn’t put my finger on it. I felt overwhelmed, and at the same time, didn’t feel much at all.
I kept driving. Sometimes when I feel this way, when the sky doesn’t seem as blue and the clouds don’t appear as crisp, it’s a good indicator for me to pay attention to my soul.
I didn’t know the words to pray. Help? Heal me? I uttered both of those prayers, half-heartedly.
I don’t always have it in me to pray like I want to. I can’t always think of new thoughts, new words, or new ideas to bring to the ears of Jesus. When I don’t have the words, I can choose to recall and remember. We don’t always need fresh insight; instead, sometimes we need old reminders.
The first people to hear the incredible news of Jesus rising from the dead were women who were friends with Jesus. The group of women had gone to the tomb early in the morning on Sunday, only to discover that the stone guarding the tomb had been rolled away and Jesus’ body was nowhere to be found.
Suddenly, the most dazzling light they’d ever seen appeared in front of them. To their surprise, two angels stood beside them. The women – naturally terrified and trembling – put their heads to the ground while the angels told them, “Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words” (Luke 24:5-8 NIV).
The women had forgotten what Jesus had told them: He would die and rise again. But when they heard what the angels said, the women remembered.
Sometimes prayer is simply recalling what God has said in the past, in order to fuel our faith for the future. When Jesus had dinner with His friends for the last time, He told them to do it again in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19).
Jesus calls us to remember. Sometimes God gives us visions, dreams, or prophetic words through others; or Scripture will jump out to us in the most sudden way, a verse perfectly applying to our current circumstance. But other times, we need to pray in remembrance.
As I drove to the conference I was preaching at, my heart heavy and pummeled, I chose to remember. Sometimes we don’t have words; instead, we have memories. I remembered some of the ways God has moved in my life. I remembered how He saved my life – not just on the cross, but in a hundred little ways each day. I remembered His kindness, His nearness, His goodness.
After I preached, I stayed the weekend with one of my best friends. We spent a few days together, and when I drove home, I realized the sky seemed blue again. I was reminded of how the love of God and the love of a good friend is often the beginning of healing.
God doesn’t stop moving even now. When you cannot pray, choose instead to remember. Remember Jesus’ words. Remember who He is. Pray in remembrance of the past, and it will bring you faith for today.