Easter 1988 is etched in my memory. Way back then, I truly prayed to God for the first time. I asked Him to forgive my sin, & be Lord of my life. Eight others also committed to follow Jesus. It was an amazing Youth Weekend. The presence of God was palpable as we sang songs under the stars on Ballycastle beach.
A couple of years later I was asked to give my testimony. I stood at the front of church & shared my story. I shared this quote:
‘We get & forget
God gives & forgives’
It’s so true. God forgives us & blesses us. But we get & forget.
In the busyness of life, is it possible to forget the God we cannot breathe without?
Yes, we have poor memories. We forget God’s presence day by day.
We look at the storm & forget about our Anchor.
We focus on our problems & forget our powerful God.
Terror looms across the globe & we forget our Conqueror.
We forget to connect with our unseen Shepherd, the Guardian of our souls.
We easily unravel. In times of trouble we forget how God has led us in the past
We forget the cost of undying love.
Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love wrote about Spiritual Amnesia- how we forget how awesome God is.
‘For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God.’
(Deuteronomy 10:17 NLT)
Forgetting God is not a new phenomenon.
In Exodus, the Israelites felt hungry & thirsty & forgot their dramatic rescue from Egypt & the miracle of crossing the Red Sea.
The night before He faced the agony of the cross, Jesus had his last meal with his disciples & washed their feet. He spoke challenging last words.
‘And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”’
(Luke 22:19 NIV)
He knew the disciples too well. He knew their shortcomings, & that they needed to intentionally remember Him. Although they had witnessed the miracles & parables, & done life with the Servant-King, often the human default setting is forgetfulness.
Yet, God will not forget us.
‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands’
(Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV)
We are engraved on His hands, & he will not forget us! He will not let go.
Jesus prayed for us before the anguish of Gethsemane, the night before those hands were nailed to a cross:
‘I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’
(John 17:20-21 NIV)
How can we respond to our God who gives & forgives?
‘And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.’
(Deuteronomy 10:12-13 NLT)
‘We can be tempted to forget about the miracle work of grace & begin to notice all the things we do wrong. We can begin to confuse ourselves with our sin’
(Trillia J Newbell)
We need to remember God- tolook at our Saviour rather than our sin, to focus on His forgiveness rather than ouf failings:
‘Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.’
(Psalm 103:2-5 NIV)
Samuel set up a stone,and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
(I Samuel 7:12 NKJV)
We need to look back on our lives & trace God’s grace woven through.
If we’re suffering from spiritual amnesia,we need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Take time to reflect & remember:
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home’