By: Kate Van Der Hoeven
It’s 7:45 am. I’m deeply focused on my Bible study. I’m impressed with what I’m learning. Had those verses always been there? I jot down a page full of notes, get up, and move on with the day.
By noon, I’ve been at work for a few hours. It’s been a rough day. I grumble at my co-workers instead of praying for my own heart. I give up trying to make today better. I’ve already messed it up beyond my ability to fix.
8 pm arrives and I sit down at my desk; defeated. I reach for my journal and turn to the words I had written just that morning: “Blessed be the LORD, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the LORD, belong deliverance from death.” (Psalm 68:19-20)
Underneath was written a question: “If it is the LORD who daily bears me up, helps me when I fall, and saves me from death, why do I still stress and fret over life’s trivial problems that consume me one day and are gone the next?”
Within 12 hours, I had forgotten the richness of what He had been showing me in Scripture. Though I was again encouraged by these truths, I was also disappointed by how quickly I had forgotten their splendor. Would my day have looked different if I had just remembered?
Forgetfulness is not unique to me. Because God created our earthly bodies and minds to be finite, we don’t have the ability to remember every little thing we do or say. My quiet time and what I learn often encourages or pricks my heart in the moment, but gets forgotten when I enter the busy world with all its problems.
The Israelites were a study in forgetfulness. No sooner had God delivered them from Egypt than they doubted His goodness at the edge of the Red Sea. (Exodus 14:10-12) They then complained about the water and food God provided (Exodus 16:1-3 and Exodus 17:1-3). Their forgetfulness got to the point where they made and worshiped idols. (Exodus 32:1-10) It’s easy to criticize their faithless forgetfulness but we’re just as human as they were. We study our Bibles, we pray to and worship Him, but when we leave the prayer closet, when we close our Bibles to leave for work, we’re faced with a difficult battle: the battle of remembering.
Because God knows we are forgetful people, He gives us tools to help us remember. If we utilize these tools, we will be less prone to wandering away and forgetting His commands and promises.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
– Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Memorizing Scripture drives God’s Word deep into our hearts. It is a powerful weapon against our own forgetfulness, giving us the ability to remember what the Bible says when the Bible is not in our hands. God uses this gift of Scripture memory to help us in many ways. In times of trials, we can hide in the promises of his steadfast love. In times of temptation, we can run to His saving grace. In times of doubt, the reassurance of his power is only a memory away.
For most of us, Scripture memory is difficult. It takes time and a lot of effort. But the confidence and help it brings in time of need makes it worth the effort.
“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
– Proverbs 3:3-7
Journaling serves two purposes in helping us to remember. When we take time to write out thoughts on what we are reading, we’re actively engaging with the words of Scripture. It forces us to form our own thoughts about what God is saying to us. Not only does journaling help us engage with the Word but when we write things down, we can return to it hours, days, or even months later and instantly recall what God taught us. This is an excellent way to remember what God has done for us in the past, and helps us see what He is doing in the present. This greatly encourages our faith.
“Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust?
Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. Yet these things you hid in your heart; I know that this was your purpose.”
– Job 10:9-13
God had his purposes in making us finite. He made us humans, not gods, and as such, we are fully dependent on the One who gave us life and sustains it. It gives him great pleasure when we acknowledge our weakness and dependence on Him. We must pray to him daily for help in remembering His steadfast love and redeeming work. We can’t breathe without His sustaining hand, much less remember all that he has done and is doing. Because this is true, we must ask for his help to not forget Him. He delights answering such prayers of dependence.
We will always fight against forgetfulness. We’re literally fighting against our own nature. We need to be intentional in our efforts to meditate on his word so that we can remember it. Most of all, we need the grace of God to help us fight against our human tendencies. We’ll fail, still forget his mercies, and definitely fall into sin over and over. However, God never forgets His mercy towards us. For every failure, He gives more grace; for every stumbling step, He remembers that we are dust. We are forgetful, but we belong to the God of the ages Who always remembers us.
Kate is kid number 7 of 10 in her family, and her life has never had a dull moment! Growing up in a homeschooling, Christian home in Kentucky, Kate was raised to love God and His Word. She currently works at a local orchard, and fills her time with reading, archery, and piano playing. It is her firm belief that we never stop growing to be more like Jesus as we actively pursue Him.