Remember Not To Forget
Judges 6:8-9, “…that the Lord sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery. I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossesed them before you and gave you their land,'”
Remember not to forget. That has been one of my life philosophies for years. I just wish I could remember it more often. I don’t know about you but I forget far too easily. I forget the things that matter, the things that are important, and the things that are of true and lasting value. I forget promises that I once made, priorities that I once held, and people that once mattered deeply to me. I forget where I am going sometimes. I have an even greater tendency to forget where I have been. But most of all, I find myself forgetting God. Yes, I hate to admit it but it’s true. Far too often, when life gets difficult and demanding, I forget who He is and what He has done for me.
In Judges 6 Israel had failed to remember not to forget. (Go ahead. Read it again. I’ll be here.) Following 4 decades of peace and prosperity, Israel simply forgot. They forgot God’s promises. They forgot God’s warnings. They forgot the wonders that He had performed on their behalf in days past. They forgot the slavery. They forgot the oppression and misery. They forgot the joy of freedom and the bliss of deliverance. They forgot the blessings. They forgot the abundance. They forgot what it felt like to live in houses they did not build, drink from wells they did not dig, and eat from vineyards they did not plant. They forgot God’s provision. They forgot God’s protection. They forgot God’s providential care. Bottom line? They forgot God. Yes, they failed to remember not to forget. And as a result, they returned to their sin and brought devastation upon themselves.
From time to time I like to stop and remind myself of all that God has done for me. Most of you don’t know me and have never heard my testimony. 4 days shy of my 21st birthday life found me in a race. I was on a path of personal destruction running full-tilt to see which I could reach first… a jail cell or an early grave. I had spent the better part of almost 6 years living in a world defined by alcohol and drug abuse. My life was completely out of control. I was bound. I was miserable. I was suicidal. I was a train wreck just waiting to happen. For me, at that point in my life, it was only a matter of time.
But then it all changed on April 24, 1988. That night in the early hours of the morning I met Jesus Christ. Understand, I didn’t come from a Christian family. I didn’t grow up in church. I didn’t cut my teeth on a pew. But that night Jesus Christ broke into my life, halted my path of destruction, and gave me new life through His love and His blood. To make a long story very short, within the next 24 hours I would attend a church service in which a visiting evangelist called me out of the crowd and prayed for me. In a matter of seconds Jesus set me free breaking the chains of my addiction and personal destruction. I walked out of that church on that night clean and sober for the first time in years. It has been over 2 decades now. Not one day of treatment. Never once went back. Dismiss it if you want but I know what I know. Jesus saved me, delivered me and forever changed me.
Yes, just like Israel I know what it means to be “brought up… and brought out.” I know what it means to be delivered, to be set free from oppression, to recover that which the enemy stole, and to receive that which I never deserved. I too have experienced His grace and goodness. Personally and powerfully. And just like Israel I too have forgotten who He is and what He has done. I too have walked away at times. I too have neglected Him in favor of other pursuits and passions. I too have embraced sin that I was told to forsake. I too have failed. I too have fallen. I too have fled from His presence at times.
But just like Israel I too have experienced His forgiveness, His mercy, and the gift of reconciliation. If I could encourage you to remember anything today, it would be to remember His love. Israel had willfully sinned for 7 long years. They had stubbornly walked in rebellion. But God never stopped loving them. And when they cried out to Him He answered. He sent a prophet to remind them of His power, to remind them of His favor, and to remind them of His mercy. Most of all He sent them a prophet to remind them that is was never too late to turn around or turn back. For 7 years they had suffered the consequences of ignoring His word. But now He extended to them the chance to be restored. Don’t forget. God is full of love, full of grace, and full of forgiveness. It’s not too late. You haven’t gone too far. It isn’t over for you. We might fail but He won’t. He has promised never to leave us, never to abandon us. And I can tell you with confidence God will not fail to remember His promises. He will not fail you. Now, that’s a truth worth remembering not to forget.