Have you ever forgotten something important? Like an anniversary? Or your mountain bike shoes after driving to Utah to bike? Or your biking shorts after driving to Arkansas to ride? Or, maybe you forgot something more fundamental. Like when life was going so well, you silently and subtly forgot God. Not on purpose – but when life is marked by peace and abundance, He just sort of slips away from a prime spot in your life. Until you hit another crisis, that is, then you are forced to consider larger questions like, who is God and what is He doing in my life?, or What does God want to do through my life? Our crisis fuels a rekindling of our intimate walk with God, and once again we regain His perspective on life, suffering, and success, and we find a new level of stability and contentment (even in the midst of our problems). Too often that stability and contentment are followed by – forgetfulness – and once again we drift away from our intimate walk with God. It’s a cycle of forgetfulness.
Why does it happen? Because we forget to remember.
Forgetting to remember God is not unique to us. It happened to Israel too. Judges 2 established the cycle that is repeated at least 7 times in the book:
Sin: People of Israel worship Canaanite gods of neighboring nations
Oppression: People of Israel fall into service of neighboring nations
Repentance: People of Israel cry out to God
Intervention: God raises up a local Judge for the people of Israel
Deliverance: The Judge provides deliverance from the neighboring nations
Peace: The land has rest
It’s not like God forgot to remind Israel that the blessings that lay ahead of them could be a cause of forgetting Him. God wanted Israel to experience peace and rest – but that peace and rest are the precise conditions when we are most likely to forget Him! That’s why God reminded Israel to not forget in Deuteronomy 6.
“And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear (Duet 6:10-13).
It's ironic that the blessings that come from a warm and intimate walk with God are the very things that can fuel a cold and distant relationship with God. That’s why we need to remember who God is and what God has done and what He is doing.
Remembering is one reason why I like to go to church (other than the fact that I’m a pastor and it’s awkward when I don’t show up). Going to church and connecting with other people is a weekly reminder of the larger things in life. It reminds me of what and who is important. It reminds me to remember Him even during the good times of abundance. It reminds me that it is the goodness of God that is to fuel my loving and willing response to follow Him.
God’s goodness and faithfulness are to trigger my response of worship, love and willing submission to Him and His plans – whether I am experiencing plenty, hunger, abundance or need.