The blue ribbon

by Marilyn Mathis

“The true art of memory is the art of attention.”

— Samuel Johnson

Do you ever have trouble remembering? I used to think this was an “age” problem, but it really isn’t. Forgetfulness affects all ages and is largely due to the fact that we live in a hectic, busy world with “memory overload.” Thomas Fuller said, “Memory is like a purse. If it be overfull, all will drop out of it.”

It takes an effort on our part to remember, especially when there are so many things vying for our attention. There are aids, such as lists, calendars and other people, to help us not forget. Have you ever said to another person, “Don’t let me forget to . . .” 

One thing used today to help us remember certain things is a ribbon:

YELLOW — Our military troops

RED — Drug awareness. Just say no!

PINK — Women’s health, breast cancer

BLACK — Death

BLUE — High achievement

The association of high achievement with the color blue is fairly widespread in the West. The blue ribbon is given for first place in most sporting events and competitions. Many decorations of Western nations feature blue very prominently. The use of blue may have originated in England in 1348 when King Edward VIII chose a broad, dark blue ribbon as the badge of his newly formed Order of the Garter. Behind his choice may have been the awe that human beings feel for the heavens. Blue is a heavenly color.

In Numbers 15:37-41, God spoke to Moses and told him: “Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember.” The blue cord, or ribbon, was commanded by God as an aid for remembering. What were they to remember?

Who God is — “I am the LORD your God” (15:41). He is the self-existent, eternal, covenant God and desires to be “your” God, a God of relationship.

What God has done — “Who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God.” This speaks of His provision, protection, presence and power displayed for them.

What God expects — “Remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes . . . and be holy to your God” (15:39-40). God expected them to be obedient to His commands and to practice a life of holiness.

Holiness speaks of being separate — to be in the world, but not of the world. The blue ribbon was attached to their everyday clothing. These ribbons of blue were always on display and visible to all whether in the synagogue or marketplace, at worship or work. It was a constant reminder to them, and others, of who they belonged to and represented with their lives. Their walk and talk was to be worthy of their God.

Today, God, who does not change, expects Christians to be obedient and holy. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “Be holy, even as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). We, too, have reminders God has provided to help us remember. The indwelling Holy Spirit will call to our remembrance the things of God. The Bible is always available to guide us into His truth for us to live by each day. We must make a choice, bring back to mind by an effort, to “put on Jesus,” the perfect example of obedience and holiness.

Do others see Jesus in you? May each of us live as a reminder to the world around us of who God is, what He has done and what He expects from us. Let Him “manifest through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14).



A Conway resident, Marilyn Mathis is a wife, mother, Nana and teaching leader for First Wednesday Lunch Break. Readers can reach her at [email protected].