Many years ago I was working out at my apartment when I got a call from a friend. “Where are you?” she asked. “At my apartment” I innocently answered. And in the pause that followed, suddenly it hit me – I was supposed to meet her for dinner! As we were meeting over an hour away, there was no way for me to redeem the gaffe and make it to our appointment.
It was one of the first, but certainly not the last time that I realized that my memory is not what it used to be. In the past, I could keep my appointments in my head and be on time, if not early, for all of them. Now, I find myself leaving post-it notes, electronic reminders, and voice-mail messages for myself if I want to remember things that I’m supposed to do. It could be that I have more things to remember – and I’m pretty sure that’s at least part of it – but sometimes I long for the days when everything was stored in my internal memory bank, when I could readily access that things I was supposed to know.
However, I’m not the only one that’s prone to bouts of forgetfulness. Throughout Exodus and Deuteronomy we see that the people of Israel regularly forgot the things that God did for them and what He promised them. We read passages like Deuteronomy 28:1-14 and we see the many blessings that God longs to pour out on them if they will walk in His ways. Yet, we know from history that it won’t be long before they are doing what they want rather than what God says. We may wonder how the Israelites could have ever gone astray after the clarity with which God spoke to them. The blessings of their right actions (i.e. obeying Him) and the consequences of their wrong actions (i.e. sin) were made abundantly clear. Over and over again, God commands them to “remember” – yet they didn’t. They didn’t remember what He had done or the words that He had said – at least not in any way that influenced their action. Because they forgot or neglected their relationship with God, His promises ceased to be as powerful for them. And so they were led astray.
I, too, can “forget” what God has done and the promises that He has made, and this often is the cause of my own sin. I neglect to remember that I will give an account – that there will be consequences for my actions. I forget the faithfulness of God, seize “control,” and follow my own desires rather than His.
The solution of course is to remember – to remember what He has promised, and Who He is. I need to cling tightly to the promises of God, knowing that He “is not slow” “as some count slowness” – but that He will make good on what He’s promised (2 Peter 3:9). I need to give thanks when I do remember, knowing that even this is an act of His grace. I need to be assured that diligent obedience to Him will have a reward – either in this life or the next. And I need to remember that standing before Him, hearing “well done, my good and faithful servant” will be a moment I won’t forget.