I’m forgetful at times. I used to have a saying that my brain is only so big, so every time I learn something new, something old has got to go. I’m not known for being a forgetful person, understand, but I know that I let details slip here and there that I really should remember. I absolutely love learning and reading and studying, but I sometimes have a problem with retention. I think I take in too much too fast, perhaps.
As a writer this is the thorn in my flesh. Once at a Bible study I was attending, someone quoted something I’d written, but I didn’t even remember it. I feel like I should know my own writing like the back of my hand. But, I don’t always.
As a lover of God’s word, this is also a thorn for me. I study and open my heart and comprehend, but I just can’t retain it all. I know it’s really just my perfectionism talking. I’d love to know the Bible like the back of my hand. But I forget things… (“Where is that verse located?” “Oh, was that in Psalms or Isaiah?” “Was so-and-so king of Israel or Judah?”) The joy in this is that there’s always something new in the Bible for me! And I also know that it’s God’s way of protecting me from pride in my own abilities.
I have to depend on Him and His written word!
And in life in general, being forgetful of God can be dangerous. If I don’t recount the deeds of the Lord – what He’s done in my life and in the lives of others – I might forget. And forgetfulness of this nature is so frightening!
“I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.” (Isa 63:7, ESV)
My daughters and I have just completed the chronological history of the Old Testament. It amazes me how, time and again throughout the story of the Israelites, and then into the split kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and further into the time of the captivity in Babylon, and then back again to Jerusalem, the people were forgetful.
In the last chronological book of the Old Testament, Nehemiah, we read of a people who have returned from 40 years of Babylonian captivity to come back to rebuild the Temple of God, and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. They should be remembering and singing praises to God for a long time to come, right?
But in Nehemiah chapter 13 we read that Nehemiah had to return to King Artaxerxes in Persia for a short while. Just before he left, the people had gathered, read the law of God, and then prayed a prayer and made an oath of obedience. And when Nehemiah returned not long later, guess what he found? An obedient people? Hardly.
No, they had cleaned out the storeroom in the Temple meant to hold tithes and meat, grain, and oil offerings and set it up for Tobiah the Ammonite. Tobiah was an enemy of the rebuilding efforts and there he was, living in the storeroom of the Temple! And not only that, but he was an Ammonite. Ammonites and Moabites were prohibited by God himself from entering the congregation of the Lord (see Deut 23:3-6).
And not only was there the sin of Tobiah’s living arrangements, but the people had also broken their post-captivity oath with God in other ways. They hadn’t been tithing for the Levites, which forced the Levites back to their own fields for provision and away from their duties at the Temple. And, they weren’t keeping the Sabbath but rather they were doing business with neighboring areas on that day. Disobedience is never a good testimony to the nations around you! And (yes, there’s more!), some of the Jews had taken foreign wives when this also was prohibited. Their children couldn’t even speak Hebrew, which of course the Scriptures were written in.
All of this, because they forgot. They didn’t recount the deeds of the Lord. They didn’t take the time to meditate on all He’d done for them. They didn’t make the time to keep His Word and walk in His ways. They didn’t take the time even, to learn from their (nor their ancestor’s) past mistakes.
And the real issue here?
We can easily do the same. But I believe, the antidote is rather simple. We must make time to be with God in worship, study (remembering), and prayer. And gratitude for all He’s done for us—daily, heartfelt gratitude- will keep us from forgetting!
When we forget what He’s done, it’s easy to give up. To think He doesn’t see, doesn’t help, doesn’t care. The more we thank Him, the more He opens our eyes to His faithfulness and His love and provision. And the more we love Him, the more faithful we’ll be!
“For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5, ESV)
How do you recount the Lord”s deeds and combat spiritual forgetfulness?
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