Those are the first three words of the song September by Earth, Wind, and Fire. It recalls a night in September when people danced, their souls sang, and there was never a cloudy day. Remembering sparked love, romance, and joy.
There is beauty in traveling down memory lane, in recounting the moments of life that bring a smile to our faces. And yet I have been struggling to reconcile “remembering” against my recent revelation of forgetting the past and pressing toward what lies ahead. God made it clear to me that I wasn’t to dwell in what was, and instead look forward, expectantly, to what He had next. But in the waiting, when it’s hard to see a glimmer of hope, one of the greatest things I can do is to remember.
Taking the time to remember what God has done in my life is the pathway to hope.
When Jeremiah wrote Lamentations, he was reflecting on how bad times were — the people messed up royally and suffered significant consequences for their sins. But even in the darkness, he remained hopeful as he recalled who God was and how His faithfulness endured:
“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!’ The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So, it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:20–26 (NLT, emphasis mine)
Finding hope isn’t about remembering my greatness or accomplishments. Remembering is about focusing on the beautiful ways God has shown up in my life. As I sit in this prolonged period of unemployment, it warms my spirit to look back and see how God opened doors through people He put in my path.
As I reflect on my working history, I can see the hand of God in every situation. When I applied to work at the Happiest Place on Earth, I got the “no thank you” two weeks later. A friend’s dad was working there and encouraged me to go down and apply again; Disneyland was looking for persistent applicants. Within the week, I was hired. I know God opened that door.
Then while attending BIOLA, I interned for the Director of Public Relations — which was amazing in itself because I wasn’t the best student in his PR class, but he said I spunk. Shortly after I graduated, he took on a new role at a local community college. I reached out to see if he was aware of any job openings. He had two positions open at the college — I ended up working there for seven years. Just another beautiful example of how God uses relationships in our lives to open doors to where we can grow and flourish.
Part of my role at the college was to serve on several local chambers of commerce boards. While on the Cerritos Chamber board, I met the property manager of a super-regional shopping center who later would become my boss of nearly 10 years. Someday I will have to share the story of how God created that opportunity for me.
I’m just scratching the surface of what God has orchestrated in my life, and I can tell you the details were something only God could manage. But as I remember each person, each conversation, each opportunity, my heart is filled.
God has been faithful every step of the way. Why would He stop now?
Since I was 18 years old, God has taken care of my occupational path. Doors opened and closed along the way, but He has always had my best interest at heart, even when I didn’t see or understand at the time. For example, when I started working at the shopping center, I felt like a fish out of water. Every day for the first six months I questioned why I was there — I questioned why God put me in a place where I felt like a failure every day. For many years I really struggled, but God was faithful in walking alongside me and teaching me dependence on Him — not on myself and what I could do. Looking back, it was a great 10 years filled with friendships and self-discovery.
So now, after being out of work since October (that’s nine months and counting), I struggle to see how God is going to provide again. I am in a new geographic area, my marketing skills are five years rusty, and we are in the middle of a pandemic. Things look bleak, but God is a master at turning bleak into bling.
He reminded me of His sovereignty recently when a friend sent me Hope in the Dark by Craig Groeschel. It took a good month for me to even pick up the book, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. It was as if the author knew exactly how I was feeling — hopeless and lost. But like Jeremiah, Groeschel encouraged his readers to write how they felt and then remember. He put navigating hope amidst darkness simply:
You REMEMBER what God has done.
You ACCEPT what God is doing.
You TRUST what God is going to do.
I had no problem looking back and seeing how God’s hand intricately wove my life together.
But I was stuck on accepting what He is currently doing and trusting what He is going to do. I’ve been a Christian for a long time, and I know that God is good and has a good purpose for me. But that doesn’t make my current situation enjoyable. Being out of work sucks. Being home for months on end, with no prospects in sight, is a major bummer. And when my focus is on all of the negativity of my situation, it’s difficult to accept that God is working.
While it is easy to welcome the good things in life, it is a lot harder to bear the darker ones. But in remembering that God has never abandoned me, not once, I can work toward embracing this period of waiting. I can acknowledge that, while God seems silent and distant, the truth is, He is probably a lot closer than I realize. He’s probably kicking some serious booty that I am not aware of to make way for the next chapter!
Through acceptance comes trust. God has a history of excellent follow-through. I can trust in that. I can trust in His character. I can trust that He truly does have a plan and all will be revealed in His perfect timing — not when I want or think I need.
It does a body good to remember that God is in control and that He’s got this — He’s got me.
And He understands. He knows I am struggling right now, and that’s ok. What blows me away is that, even in the midst of my doubt and moments of hopelessness, God never checks out. In fact, He ramps up. I have grown closer to Him over the last few months than I have in the last few years. Sure, my desperation has caused me to fall at His feet more often, but at the same time, I have come to know who He is and how incredible His love is for me. God has not given up on me — or my future — even if I have. Instead, He sends people, books, movies, and even mindless TV to reveal His goodness and everlasting “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)
So, accepting where I am right now means I am accepting treasured time with my Lord and Savior that I might not have otherwise had. And the more time I spend with Him, the more I trust in what He has designed for my future.