"I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave them your land." ~Judges 6:9 (NIV)
Here, once again, the Israelites did evil in God's eyes and the Midianites swooped in. For seven years God's chosen suffered under a foreign oppressor. It finally got so bad that they cried out to God for help -- again. This time, God didn't just rescue them, but reminded them of where He had brought them from and their disobedience to Him. Thus, they are suffering.
When I read this passage, two questions popped into my mind. 1) Why are we so forgetful? 2) Is there a way to break the cycle of forgetfulness?
All of life is filled with peaks and valleys. We experience them in our marriages, our jobs, our weight, our moods, our exercise plans, our bank accounts. So is it just inevitable that we will have peaks and valleys in our spiritual walk? Probably. My daughter, Gabby, was just at youth camp. She said that the speaker, Matt, gave a great final sermon on coming down from the mountain top that they had been on all week -- both physically and spiritually. Gabby summarized it this way, "You can't keep the high, but Jesus can keep you in the lows." With sin, pain, and disappointment in the world, we are going to experiences many highs and lows. But we serve the King and have His Spirit living within us. There must be a way to minimize those lows that cause spiritual forgetfulness. I need to be able to face the next mountain I need to climb by remembering how God enabled me to conquer the last mountain. And the one before that. And the one before that.
Here are some ways I know I can remember:
1. Stay in the Word and Prayer!!! If I become slack and don't maintain regular times alone with the Lord, I drift in my thinking and attitudes. It's like checking the rope daily to be sure the boat is connected to the dock. If you don't, wind, rain, and the pounding waves will loosen that rope and the boat will drift away. I need clear rope-checking time every day.
2. Faith Journal. I have not been good about keeping this and need to do better. When I just stop and think for a while about my life and the things God has brought me through, I am completely overwhelmed by His faithfulness. I have so to speak been rescued from Egypt; I have faced plague and famine; I have met up with opposing armies at insurmountable odds. God has worked in my life, and I must remember His power that can conquer any obstacle I face and trust the He will be there again. But to do so, I must stop and remember. Quiet reflection time is difficult to find with jobs, families, responsibilities. But floundering in the insecurity of facing battles without power is so much worse. All I have to do is remember and believe.
3. Keep myself accountable. I'm a list maker. If I don't, I will not remember. Already this week I double booked myself because I didn't write down the first commitment. Maybe I need some more vitamins or possibly shock therapy, but I just do not have a good memory. Used to; but time has robbed me. In the same way as I use lists to keep track of my "to do's," I need accountability to keep track of my spiritual walk. I have my husband and one main female accountability partner, but then I am also in an accountability group. Those regular meetings help keep my mind on God's activity in the world today. I am constantly reminded through those ladies of God's power at work in and through every day people, and it builds my faith and attentiveness to His plan.
4. Run from sin. If I am doing #1-3, this one is so much easier to accomplish. Because I spend time with my loving Father, I want to obey Him. Because I remember His faithfulness in the past, I don't want to hinder Him working in and through me in the future. And because I am accountable to several people, I have fellow warriors fighting through the battle with me and I am made stronger.
I know I am going to face times of doubt and fear. I know that I will sometimes start up a mountain with trepidation. But I will push through because I have safeguards in place to make me stronger. I never want to forget again -- He is always with me.
1. When have you forgotten and what were the consequences?
2. Do you really want to be there again? Why or why not?
3. What's your plan to not forget God's faithfulness?
4. Who are you going to ask to hold you accountable?
Father, we are frail and weak, but that is no excuse for forgetting your amazing grace and faithfulness. Empower our minds to remember, Lord, and help us develop daily habits of remaining focused on You and the goal -- to run the race well in Your strength and power.