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…

 

Pictures of Grace: Truth and Trust

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Trust. “An assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” (Merriam Webster)

In relationships of every kind, trust can be a tenuous idea or a steadfast assurance; both based on the confidence one has or lacks in another and is often substantiated not only by what is said but on what is done in relation to those words.

And trust is significantly important whether it be between coworkers or those in authority over us, friends, parent/child, family, and especially in marriage.

Trust is based on the integrity of two people; that is, truth is not just what is said. It is established or shaken by whether or not the actions that follow correspond with those words spoken or implied. It is the intention of the heart to either bring something into the open or or keep it in the shadows.

Trust is further shaken when truth is known to the one deceived yet no attempt is made by the other to bring it to light; rather, the greater effort is made to keep it in the dark and, if possible, bury it further.

Yes, when one has professed a statement to be believed and it is compromised, trust can be restored only as there is a genuine humility and a conversation to set the record straight; speaking the truth rather than keeping it covered to protect one’s pride, reputation, or personal gain, followed by actions intended to reset the course. 

Depending on how greatly the confidence has been shaken, it may take time; but, by God’s grace, it is possible.

I’ve seen both at work through many in workplaces, among friends, in families, and in marriages.

I rejoice when every effort is made to maintain vows and promises among people so that the character, not just the reputation, of another is the very foundation of their choices in both their private and public actions and trust is never shaken. It is a beautiful picture of intentionally choosing the “kingdom of God over the kingdom of self” as Paul David Tripp says. It is a delightful display of loving God and loving another so well as to deny self and the draw to “me-centered” desires. And trust is strengthened.

I give thanks and take pleasure when I see a heart softened and humbled not by mere regret or a desire to get something off their chest but, instead, by a true godly sorrow that sees wounds inflicted and errors made and seeks restoration with another by saying, “I was wrong. Please forgive me. Help me make it right and keep it right.” It is a beautiful demonstration of the grace of God redeeming and transforming lives as well as relationships to be all God intended. And trust is restored.

I grieve when I watch the enemy of our souls gleefully convince people who have wronged another that it is better for them (and even for the other) to keep the offenses in the dark; the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms do battle against our souls to lead us to exalt position and reputation over integrity. Love of self and a good name and/or a desire to continue in the same pattern sometimes convinces us it is better to let the truth be buried and so hinder relationships rather than bring truth into the light and seek reconciliation . And trust is shattered as foundations of confidence begin to erode.

We tend to fear that the truth we need to reveal will not be received with forgiveness, love, and grace. We fear losing the reputation we have created and protected or the strong position we have fought to maintain.  But we have to decide which is more important: our reputation or our integrity.

We can know the difference between godly sorrow that leads to repentance, shame that leads to fear and a deeper burial of the truth, or pride that leads to digging in deeper.  

The former is from the Father who desires light to shine in the dark places to bring redemption and restoration of individuals and relationships. 

The latter two are from the enemy whose only desire is for darkness and fear where there is no freedom and where individuals and relationships are broken down with every secret.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

We need not fear being truthful, even exposing our weaknesses and sins against each other.  It’s the only path to complete trust in relationships.  But it cannot happen in a vacuum; it cannot happen unless we are willing to lay down whatever is hindering the relationship so that reconciliation and trust can be restored.

How do we know if we have done something that would be harmful or hurtful to another whether it be in the workplace, a friendship, or home? If it is not clear, there are some questions that would be helpful to ask.

Would I want them to know my words or my actions?

Am I afraid the truth will be revealed to them?

If I were confronted with it, would I want to make excuses, justify it, or shift the blame?

Do I think about ways to “cover my tracks” or have I done that?

Would I be okay if the same thing were done to or said about me?

“Love delights in the truth.” (I Corinthians 13:6)

The truth is not always comfortable. Sometimes it is uncomfortably messy.  But our God is truth and He “desires truth in our inmost parts and teaches wisdom in the secret places” (Psalm 51:6). He desires we live that way with one another – in truth and trust as far as it depends upon us! (Romans 12:18) We are not held accountable for the response of others; but we are answerable to God for the truth or lack thereof in our lives – both our actions and our spoken or unspoken words.

Our God is truth and those who worship Him must do so in Spirit and in truth. We cannot worship well if we are hindering honesty with any other; we cannot pray and expect God to answer if we are actively maintaining the presence of “half-truths” in our lives.  (Psalm 66:18) 

It is so important to God that He says in Matthew 5:23-24, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

We cannot build solid relationships on a shaky foundation. We cannot maintain anything healthy if we are being less than truthful. We cannot interact with confidence when we know the truth yet the truth remains “out there,” even sometimes being the “elephant in the room.”

We build walls when we allow the seeds of distrust to be scattered by the winds of false faces.

Does truth matter?

Does trust matter?

Regardless of what others do to us, will we be true?

Will we be image bearers of the One who Himself is faithful and true?

As far as it depends on us, will we do whatever it takes to maintain trust in      our relationships with others?

Will we allow God to reveal and strip us of our little kingdoms that we have built behind the scenes to satisfy our desires at the expense of others, even if we think our actions adversely affect no one?

Will we allow God to open our hands and forgive when we have been sinned against just as Christ died to forgive us of our own offenses and rebellion against Him?

Will we be willing to ask God to take the blinders off our eyes and see if we have done anything to shake another’s trust?

And, if we know we have already done so, will we ask God for a heart to grieve that which grieves Him and humbly seek reconciliation or reestablish trust with that one?

Regardless of whether or not truth is ever spoken and trust is ever allowed to be rebuilt, bitterness is not an option for the believer who has been hurt. It is yet another tool of the enemy of our souls to further wound us by our own hand on top of the offense against us.

Whether we are the one who has broken the trust of another or are on the receiving end, by the equipping of the Holy Spirit, we are to intentionally “…strengthen feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the (wounded) may not be disabled, but rather healed…” We are (to) see to it that “no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:12, 13, 15)

Truth and vulnerability may reveal the uncomfortable, but they also reveal grace.  And grace shown in the midst of honesty and a move toward restoration is evidence of Christ in us, the Hope of glory!  Together they open the door to a greater openness and a deeper desire to make and keep things right.

Truth brings freedom as grace abounds; truth restores trust as it is hand in hand with repentance.

Yes, it may be that trust has to be rebuilt, but by the grace of the God who desires and calls us to shine light into our own dark places, He is more than able to transform lives and equip us to forgive and to stand firm.