Forget Not…Remember!

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We are a forgetful people!

I am!

We are blessed in the moment; the moment passes, and we forget.

We are rescued from a circumstance; the circumstance is resolved, and we forget.

We are given direction; the way gets a little cloudy even uncomfortable, and we forget.

We are provided a solution; the solution begins to dwindle or becomes a distant memory, and we forget.

We are healed from a physical or emotional hard place; the temptation to see it as a coincidence or “just as expected” rises up, and we forget.

We are forgiven; the road to complacency and rationalization looks easy, and we forget.

But God says…forget not!

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits!” (Psalm 103:1) Forget not His “gamal” – His good dealings with us! His kindness to us!

“Remember the wonders He has done…” (I Chronicles 16:12)

Each of our circumstances are different; some valleys more deep than others, some roads far more difficult.  But our God is the same; He never changes!  And I know God has proven faithful over and over again in my darkest moments of deep hurt, in my wanderings, in my struggle to see a place of rest, in my greatest needs – materially, relationally, and spiritually.

He has disciplined me out of His great love for me; He has provided and not provided according to His knowledge of what He knows I need – far more than my short-sighted requests.

When I’m on the mountain top, the answers are fresh, and I practically sing aloud with the joy that comes from seeing and experiencing the very precious presence of Almighty God in my moment – whether it be a time of gladness or sorrow, it is easy not to forget; it is easy to rest and be still.

But when the “feelings” fade and the new revelation of His faithfulness becomes part of my ordinary and every day, how easy is it to become lazy and even discontent about the way His care is working out, His provision is being manifested, His direction has led.

I might even be tempted to be one of those Israelites who wanted to “go back to Egypt” as the Keith Green song says, “where it’s safe and secure…” Except Egypt never was and our “Egypts” from which God has rescued us (and truth be told, there are many) are not either because they either never were or are no longer where He wants us to dwell either physically or in the wanderings of our mind.

And so, God also says…be careful not to forget! “Be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt…” (Deuteronomy 6:12)

It takes intentionality, a concerted choice to remember because we are so easily prone to wander, so quickly apt to deviate from the intended path He has set for us.

It also takes obedience to remember because disobedience to God clouds our recollections of His faithfulness, His goodness, His provision. Defiance, because that really is what disobedience is, blinds us to the remembrance of reality and gives us a distorted memory of what was before His rescue.

Self-reliance is also a form of disobedience that so quickly causes us to forget our need for dependence on Him in all circumstances.

Be careful not to forget the LORD your God by failing to keep His commandments…” (Deuteronomy 8:11)

We often see His commands as restrictive when, in truth, they are freedom; they keep us from becoming settled in self-reliance and entangled in things that are contrary to the character of God and will ultimately break our hearts and crush our spirits.  Self-reliance causes us to forget our true need for dependence on Him in all circumstances.

His commands give life and they give us eyes to see Him at work; disobedience leads us to discontentment with the people and circumstances He has purposely placed in our lives and an arrogance towards God…just like the Israelites in the desert.

“But they soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His plan to unfold. In the desert, they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness, they put God to the test.” (Psalm 116:13-14)

When His answers aren’t comfortable and they rock my world, “remembering” helps me stay the course and wait to “see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

I don’t know what your wilderness is, where your desert place might be – but I have been there and, at times, still find myself in those places. I have cried out to God in humility and I have called out to Him in arrogance demanding that He “fix” what was hurting my heart – whether it be personally or for one I love.

But it is in those desert places we are the most vulnerable to forget. It is in those wilderness times that we are apt to listen to the false whispers of the enemy of our souls that ask, “Did God really say?” “Why did He take you here?” “Why does He not do good to you when you have been faithful (as if our ‘faithfulness’ was even close enough to be tacked on as a reason)?” “What will it hurt if you walk just off the road He has for you rather than directly on it?”

(Again forgetting that God said, “’Ah, stubborn children,’ declares the Lord, ‘who carry out a plan, but not mine…that they may add sin to sin…your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it, when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” – Isaiah 30:1, 21)

And it is in those moments of question, those moments of potential compromise that we must cry out…I WILL REMEMBER; that we will proclaim truth from the depths of our souls regardless of whether or not we “feel” the truth!

In this journey of remembering, of this call to not forget, we can “encourage one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ so that none of (us) may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13) that so often comes from a heart that forgets!

“I WILL remember the deeds of the LORD…” (Psalm 77:11)

“I WILL bless the LORD at all times; His praise WILL continually be in my mouth…I sought the LORD and He ANSWERED me and He DELIVERED me from all my fears! Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces will never be covered in shame!” (Psalm 34:1,4-5)

“Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For you, LORD, have delivered…my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:7-9)

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I love this song by Steven Curtis Chapman…be encouraged to remember!

Remember to Remember

Well, I’ve been looking back over my shoulder
Retracing every step trying to unforget
And I see the mountaintops I’ve journeyed over
And I see the valleys deep where I crawled on my hands and knees
Pages and memories filled with joy and stained with tears
They call my name and if I listen, I can hear them saying

[Chorus 1]
Remember the way He led you up to the top of the highest mountain
Remember the way He carried you through the deepest dark
Remember His promises for every step on the road ahead
Look where you’ve been and where you’re going
And remember to remember
Remember, remember

And now I’m looking out at the road that’s waiting
But my eyes can only see so far out ahead of me
As sure as the sun will shine there’ll be more mountains I will climb
And more deep dark shadowlands where desperate faith is all I have
Until I’m home, I’m resting all my hope and trust
In the only One whose name is: God with us

[Chorus 2]
Remember the way He led us up to the top of the highest mountain
Remember the way He carried us through the deepest dark
Remember His promises for every step on the road ahead
Look where we’ve been and where we’re going
And remember to remember

[Bridge]
Remember the day is coming when He’s going to wipe the tears away
He’ll look in our eyes and say:
Remember the way I led you off the mountain
Remember the way I carried you, ohh

[Chorus 3]
Remember the way I led you up to the top of the highest mountain
Remember the way I carried you through the deepest dark
Remember my promises for every step on the road ahead
Look where you’ve been and where you’re going
Look where we’ve been and where we’re going
And remember to remember…

 

When God Shouts, There Can Be Laughter and Joy! Revisited

Sometimes I listen well.

Sometimes God needs to get my attention.

Sometimes God shouts!

Today He shouted!

It wasn’t in anger.  It wasn’t in chastisement.  It was from the tender heart of my God Who sees, Who knows my weaknesses, Who knows my sometimes fearful heart but Who loves to pull me close, steady my heart, and remind me of Who He is and what is true.

In the wee hours of the morning, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep.

Fear.

The things that were waging war on my mind are real, but they are not outside the hand of God; they are insurmountable only as I try to, in my mind and often actions, fix them or worry them into submission.

But in the hands of my Redeemer, they are just instruments to chip away at my control and self-sufficiency and point me back to the true King, the true Salvation, the true Peace!  He is doing HIS good work, not my own, in each circumstance and person.

After what seemed like hours (and may have been), I asked  the Lord to help me stop “thinking,” to be my rest so I could sleep; I eventually drifted off.

The morning light came and with it evidence upon evidence that God heard my cries in the night. He listened to them, and He has been shouting all morning long, “I love you!  I am not caught unaware!  I am still on my throne and I am still making all things new!  You may not see, but ‘Be still and know that I AM God!’”

Circumstances may not have changed in the world around me or in my world as I rose out of bed, but they are known and being sifted through the hands of our very good God.

And, even as I write this, I laugh and also cry tears of joy that my God is faithful in all things and loves to point His children to that truth again and again as a reminder…if we will just get still and ask Him for eyes to see and ears to listen.

So may I share just how He did it on this one particular day, while recognizing that He does it so often?

Sometimes I am listening but other times I miss His still small voice as well as His shouts!

In preparation for getting everyone off to their day, I headed to the kitchen.  Before I had my first cup of coffee, God was already putting things in front of my eyes to strengthen my heart!

First, came a morning Twitter notification over my phone from Kevin DeYoung (While I don’t get notifications for all, I did have specific people who I know write truth and I want to see it when they do so I set it for such)!

“To start the day without prayer is to suggest the devil is feeble, God is irrelevant, and we can handle things on our own.”

After which God brought Psalm 5:3 to my mind, “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”

And again, the Word hidden in my heart came to my head.

“I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

That first cup in hand and waiting for my son to come down for work, another friend’s reminder…

Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come … He will come to save you.’” Isaiah 35:4

I hurriedly grabbed my Bible and opened it to Isaiah 35 and read more.  That was prefaced with verse 3:

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way” and THEN, “Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come!”

Feeling a little more refreshed and with a knowing smile on my face, I saw an opened devotional.  No surprise…I was beginning to expect God was having “fun” with me that morning!

“Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.”  Exodus 14:13. 

I read on and couldn’t help the tears of joy that fell as I realized the Lord was holding me in His arms and saying, “Keep listening child; I’m speaking to you and always will! You just need be still!”

“These words contain God’s command to the believer when he is… brought into difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut up on the right hand and on the left; what is he now to do? The Master’s word to him is, ‘Stand still.’… Despair whispers, ‘Lie down and die; give it all up.’ But God would have us put on…courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness… Precipitancy cries, ‘Do something. Stir yourself.  To stand still and wait, is sheer idleness.’  (It says) we must be doing something at once—we must do it so we think—instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something but will do everything….But Faith (in the One true God)…hears God say, ‘Stand still,’ and immovable as a rock, it stands. ‘Stand still’;—keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long before God will say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, ‘Go forward.’” (Charles Spurgeon)

And, as if that were not enough, as I was pulling up that devotion to share in this blog, He continued to pour on the encouragement and challenge,

“So don’t lose heart. Have the same kind of confidence as the widow (in Luke 18). Pray with the confidence, not that precisely what you’re asking will be given, but that God will give what He knows is right. Perseverance is less about getting what we want, and more about believing that God hears us and will provide what we need — which is oftentimes something we have to grow into, especially when we ask, full of good intentions…God is never bothered when we pray by faith. Never. And perseverance is trusting this truth, as we keep asking for what’s right as far as we know, until God does what is right — either by giving us our desire or correcting it.” (Keep Praying that Prayer by Jonathan Parnell, Desiring God)

Coincidence?  No, you see God has said that His Word “will not return to (Him) empty, but will accomplish what (HE) desires and achieve the purpose for which (HE) sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)  

He has also said in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you wonderful things that you did not know!”

And He has promised that when we call out to Him, He hears and responds.  “I call on the Lord in my distress, and He answers me.”  (Psalm 120:1)

So He sent a variety of people who had no idea how what they shared was going to be used but who were faithful to do so.

Equally true, He has used the Word stored up in my heart that He alone can bring to my mind as I need it;  His words repeated back to me, to encourage, strengthen, equip, and calm His child!

I honestly laid it out to Him I wasn’t battling those fears well but that I needed to hear His voice and have my heart and mind redirected.

And as I stand in awe that the God of the universe who loved me enough to redeem me through the work of His Son, Jesus, on the cross would also choose to speak to my heart and steady my “feeble arms and weak knees,” He reminds me yet again, “Be still and know that I AM God; I will be exalted among the nations.  I will be exalted in the earth.”  (Psalm 46:10) 

And He takes me back to another time long ago when concerns weighed on my husband and I as we talked while driving around town with our then just two small children at the time.

From the back seat came a little voice.  I can still hear; our then three year old daughter singing “I cast all my cares upon You; I lay all of my burdens down at your feet.  And any time I don’t know what to do, I will cast all my cares upon you.” 

It was His voice through hers then and now, a child singing faithfully with steadfast, solid truth from I Peter 5:7.

My confidence is in the fact that “He who began a good work in you (and me), will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6) 

He is isn’t weary of my wrestling.  He isn’t shaking His head saying, “Do I have to remind you of My faithfulness again?”  No, He is carrying me to completion, gathering me in His arms, and reminding me in a myriad of ways that He is faithful, that He hears when we call to Him, and that He answers even if our fainting hearts sometimes cannot or do not hear.

So I “go forward” even as I am praying that I will continue to learn to just “be still” and rest in Him rather than look at circumstances beyond my control.

The conclusions to the “details” of  life that can cause my heart to tremble and grow weary may not be my timing or my ways, but my God is indeed making all things new, beautiful in His time and according to the riches of His grace.

He is amazingly writing my story, with its twists and turns, within the greater story of His redemption from creation to His return.

Speak Lord! I’m listening!