I mean REALLY forgetful? Wonder what happens to us when we can’t remember something? Is it that we’re preoccupied, or multi- tasking, or just plain too lazy to think? Of course, I’m not talking about old age or any kind of dementia. I’m simply talking about, “I can’t find my keys,” or “Why did I come into this room ,” or “What was it that I needed at the store?” We all have moments of UNINTENTIONAL brain freeze.
But, what if I told you that God says we are prone to INTENTIONALLY forget Him? Yep. It’s right there in Deuteronomy 6:12, just as the Israelites were chomping at the bit to finally get into the promised land, God said, “be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. ” The Hebrew root word here for “forget” implies an intentional act NOT to remember. In other words, God was saying, “I know you will choose not to consider me first when you look at what you finally have, but instead, will take all the credit for your achievements. ” (Earlier in that passage, God had given the Israelites a foretaste of what they would experience in the promised land…. fine houses, fertile vineyards, full wells. Very exciting, since they’d been going around in circles for 40 years in the desert. ) Now mind you, God didn’t think they’d forget that He totally existed. However, He did know that they’d forget who the Author was of their good fortune.
Why would God say this to His chosen people? Doesn’t that sound kind of harsh?…. Well, He said it out of love because He knew them; He knew their hearts. It’s akin to that rambunctious child you know who may jump on Aunt Martha’s sofa when they visit, and you’d say to them, “When we get to her house, I know what you’re likely to do, so I’m just giving you a warning to avoid further problems.” The child is given that warning because you know and love them!
Likewise, God knew that as soon as the Israelites became comfortable in their new lives, they would put Him on the shelf in order to replace His provision with their own effort. (I can just hear them, “Wow, look at what we’ve done! We’ve worked really hard! We deserve all this good stuff.) ” God knew that they would still acknowledge Him as someone who could fight their battles, supply their desires, keep them in good standing before their peers, etc. BUT, He also knew they would get complacent and take Him for granted, thereby intentionally forgetting all that He had done.
Our hearts are the same. What!?? Yep, we’re no different. We’re fallen, broken people who God knows will intentionally choose not to remember what He has done for us, but instead, will get caught up in life, deliberately taking the credit for our job successes, well- behaved children, large homes, and full bellies. And for what purpose would we do this? Because to remember that God is the ultimate Giver would require a response of thankfulness, without complaint. It would require us to be content and satisfied that God can be trusted to meet our needs, and that our hard work and tireless efforts really aren’t the true source of all that we have attained.
Now, we don’t absent- mindedly forget that God totally exists. It’s not like we have a chronic case of amnesia. But we DO choose at times to subdue the reality that all we have is given to us by Him. The choice to forget, of course, puts us in the driver’s seat where we can pat ourselves on the back for all our hard work and success.
Let’s face it… it isn’t pretty, is it? But it’s the truth. We just plain long like to live for ourselves. It feels good to know we’ve worked hard to accomplish something. There’s nothing wrong with that, in and of itself. But, we actually at times have thought that we have accomplished what we have because we have earned the right to get it, and God may have helped us out just a little.
Just so you know…I love to get compliments. In fact, the faulty measure I use for my self- worth comes from how well I do something. I’m one of those people who will be your friend for life if you just give me a trophy, or a certificate of accomplishment, or even a pat on the back. It makes me feel valued. But, I take it to extreme by internally believing that I receive these “awards” strictly because I have worked hard to earn them. Mind you, these aren’t verbal statements because that would sound boastful, but believe me, the thoughts are in my head. Sadly, it’s proof positive that I have chosen to forget all God has done, and further proof that I think I’m owed something. So, when I forget God, it starts a downward spiral toward ungratefulness, and an upward spurt toward arrogance. “Look at all I’ve done. Aren’t I great? Yay me!”
Do you carry around the reality that God is the Giver of all you have or have accomplished? Let the reality of my fallen example encourage you to choose to remember the faithfulness of God. He loves hard work. It blesses Him to see you use your body and brain to accomplish something. But, when you get caught up in the busyness of success, please remember that you’re prone to “forget” who gives you real life.
As we go throughout our day, let us choose to remember what God has done. Let this spur us on to thankfulness and let it reframe our view of God. Don’t forget!