The first time I read Remember God by Annie F. Downs was not technically “reading” it. I had downloaded the audible version of it a year ago on a flight home from Salt Lake City, Utah. The book was about a 4 hour listen and the flight was about 4 hours from takeoff to landing so it was a perfect choice.
I remember listening to it the first time with a few specific things sticking out to me. What’s interesting is when I read it again this year, I took new things away and read with such a new perspective. I want to share those new learnings with you below.
- This year, my word of the year has been “empty”. You can read about the why here. What struck me while reading Remember God, was how many stinking times she uses the word in the book. The most impactful quote in regards to empty is this, “I was supposed to live wide open and available for the next year and watch as God did the thing He said he was going to do”. That’s been the same thought on my heart since last December. I am supposed to live wide open and available this year to watch as God did in me that thing He told me he was going to do. That I was supposed to live so empty that the most holy thing can grow in me. Reading this line was a reminder that I needed to continue to live empty.
- My second takeaway is this word “selah”. Technically nobody really knows what it means in the bible. But normally it is used to signify a place for space. This can mean space for processing, thinking, and preparing. Annie says “An empty space that has a purpose”. This one struck another empty cord in me. My emptiness has purpose. It’s not just to live empty, but to “pause, to process, to think, and to prepare for what’s next”.
- The last takeaway is really the biggest question Annie asks herself throughout the book. It’s the question, “Is God kind”? She acknowledges his love for her and the miracles he’s done, but what she really wants to know is if He’s kind. She says at the beginning of the book, “And I saw His kindness in the empty. I saw his promises in the unknown of my future. I saw His ruthless pursuit of me, even in my pain.” And not to spoil it, but at the end, she circles back to this question of His kindness. She shares, “A deep and profound empty space in me had been filled. Not by a man, not by The List, not by my own successes or thought or failures, but by an epiphany of God’s kindness. By the reality of it.”
TWO FAVORITE QUOTES
- “But I hear Him in the back of my mind, reminding me that we finish every story we start together, He and I. It’s actually one of the things God is really known for: Finishing. Completing. Not leaving things undone. And that will be true here as well. This story of His kindness, the one I’m about to tell you, WILL have an ending. And by the time we get there, God will have done it all, and I will know it and you will know it. And we will never forget Him. Remember that. Remember God.”
- Annie is quoting Mary Oliver, a poet in this quote, but it’s worth sharing. “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift”. This was my reminder that your pain is purposeful. That the darkness is used to show bright lights. You can’t see a light during the day, but when things are really dark, even a match is a bright light.
ONE THING I’M STILL PONDERING
Annie writes about how people build monuments, like a cathedral, to remember or bring attention to a significant event or place. I’m going through the book of Joshua right now in the Old Testament and this idea of monuments is shown throughout the book of Joshua.
In Joshua 4:8-9, it says:
The men followed the instructions that the Lord had given Joshua. They picked up twelve rocks, one for each tribe, and carried them to the camp, where they put them down. Joshua had some other men set up a monument next to the place where the priests were standing. This monument was also made of twelve large rocks, and it is still there in the middle of the river.
This is then followed a few verses later in Joshua 4:20-24
The men who had carried the twelve rocks from the Jordan brought them to Joshua, and they made them into a monument. Then Joshua told the people: Years from now your children will ask you why these rocks are here. Tell them, “The Lord our God dried up the Jordan River so we could walk across. He did the same thing here for us that he did for our people at the Red Sea, because he wants everyone on earth to know how powerful he is. And he wants us to worship only him.”
This idea of monuments was a way for God’s people to mark when God restored or rescued them. The story above is when God led his people by drying up the Jordan river so they could cross it.
It has me thinking, what does it look like for me to create ways to remind myself of God and his provision? Are there ways I can look back and identify when he’s rescued me through things I’ve built specifically to remember his restoration in me? If not, how can I do this moving forward?