I'm so horrible at remembering faces that my kids have even pointed out people in the grocery story and asked, "Mom, isn't that your friend." I definitely have a weakness in this area but Nataliya's name and face made such an indelible impression on me when I first met her five years ago at a church luncheon that I immediately recognized her when I slid into a seat next to her at a Women's Conference yesterday. During a break, I asked her about how her mother was doing and a surprised look transformed her face, shocked that I would remember her mom after all these years.
The day I first met Nataliya is highlighted in my mind. My friend Dana had invited me to visit her church for a women's brunch. If I can help it, I never miss a chance to spend time with Dana plus great food takes me back to my college days and the joys of the church potluck dinners. We sat down at a table in the back of the room and across from us was a beautiful woman with blond hair, wide set eyes and the high cheekbones you see on Eastern European models. Next to Nataliya was a beautiful older woman with the same cheek bones. Nataliya explained that her mom was visiting for several months but didn't know English. Every once in a while Nataliya would lean over and quietly explain what was going on in Ukrainian.
During the meal, we went around the table and introduced ourselves and during the process learned Nataliya's amazing life story of growing up in Ukraine and coming to North Carolina after meeting her husband online through an international dating website. I was amazed at how brave and open she was about her life story- there is no way I would have left my life and family to marry some guy from Ukraine. After coming to the United States, she started attending church with her husband and in the process came to know Jesus. Her eyes lit up as she shared the transformation that had taken place in her heart after finding her Savior and True Love. She thought she had traveled across the world to find love and a new life with her wonderful husband but God had a bigger plan that meant she would find the One who loved her so much that He sacrificed His life so that she would have eternal life. Wow! I am always amazed and humbled to learn of the extremes God goes to to make us aware of His love. After finishing her story, she looked at at us and said in the heartfelt manner of someone who knows True Love and wants everyone else to know it too, "Please pray for my Mom to know Jesus."
When someone asks me to pray for salvation, I pray. I never doubt that it is God's will. 2 Peter 3:9 says "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." God's heart is for everyone to know Him regardless of our gender, race, age or ethnicity. Everyone.
Seeing Nataliya yesterday brought back her heartfelt request for us to pray for her Mom. As we were standing in line for coffee during a break, I mentioned remembering her prayer request for her Mom's salvation. Her face went pale with shock and she looked at me and said, "I can't believe you remembered my Mom and my prayer request. I don't even remember asking you." She paused and then joyfully answered my question. " My mom is saved. She knows Jesus." She paused again and then gave me a concerned look. She explained, "God has told me to keep a journal. He said 'Write it down.' This is why I am supposed to journal so that I can remember important things like this." I totally understood her conviction and calling. God had called me to write and I had realized if I wasn't writing I wasn't being obedient to His calling. Not all of us are called to write but all of God's people are called to remember His goodness, celebrate answered prayers and acknowledge His provision and protection.
Even before the people of Israel were delivered from slavery in Egypt, God told them to celebrate the Passover for all generations to come. “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast." Exodus 12:14 By the time Jesus was born, the descendants of Israel had been celebrating the Passover to remember God's deliverance for 1,300 years. Just as the Passover was a way to remember the miracle of the Exodus, Communion is a time to remember the bondage that we have been delivered from, a time to celebrate the amazing gift of new life that we have in Christ. Jesus told his followers to celebrate their deliverance from sin and death by remembering his sacrifice, "And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." Luke 22:19
It is so important to remember what God has done for us. As the Psalmist encourages us, "I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago." Remembering requires valuing what God has done, repeating and sharing so we don't forget. What helps you remember God's blessings and answered prayers? How would you share stories of God's blessing and salvation with others?