3 Ways to Remember God When You Forget

I’m the world’s most forgetful person. I have forgotten wallets, coffee cups and paperwork on top of my car and driven around town. I have forgotten to go to major events. I have left things on and forgotten to turn things off.

You can even ask my mom. Even though she is still recovering from a major stroke (which you'd think would leave her at a deficit in the memory department), she regularly keeps me on task. My siblings, friends and husband have OFTEN had to resort to politely calling me flakey while bailing me out when I’ve totally forgotten whatever it is  - again.

Exhibit A: …just today as I was leaving the house with Audrey she made me stop and make sure I had my phone…then my keys…then my coffee - and let's just say I had to go back in for at least one of them. These precious people are all very frustrated lifesavers for me all the time.

And even now as I confess this about myself, I completely throw the Israelites under the bus whenever I am reminded (see what I did there?) how they kept forgetting God.

Take for example when they start whining moments after crossing the Red Sea - yep the one God parted for them so they could avoid their enemies. Right after that, they are treated to literal manna of provision only to decide they're tired of it. They worship any other God they can possibly craft out of their imaginations or some kind of metal. (see Exodus 14 and Psalm 78)

Here’s the cycle:

life is great

then they get comfy-cozy

pretty soon they become prideful

and before too long they simply forget.

In their comfort or discomfort, they take their eyes off the key ingredient to their ability to thrive, survive and carry on…God.

Such losers, those Israelites. What’s their deal? Why do they need everything to be so perfect all the time? Why is everything so conditional with them?

In case, like me, you find yourself being EXACTLY AS FORGETFUL as those loser Israelites, here are

 3 tips for remembering when you forget:

#1 Use a meaningful symbol, it’ll help you remember

For me, it’s owls. Weird, I know.  Every time I see one - on a bumper sticker, in a shop, in a Harry Potter movie - I remember his care for me in the darkest days in the brightest days and everything in between. Symbols rock. But when the meaning of a symbol wears off or ceases to have the impact of reminding you about God, find another one. It’s that easy.

#2 Don’t beat yourself up WHEN you forget (because you will)

My dad passed away last March after having been diagnosed with cancer for literally 7 days. During that time, I had peace. I was full of belief that Jesus was walking through this with us, gently, kindly and one step at a time.

I was in the zone, man.

I was kind of shiny almost. Just full of peace because I knew I wasn’t in control of ANYTHING – all I had to do in those moments was love my dad and do the next right thing.

But I promise that in what seemed like moments after everything ended – the funeral et al – the peace ended. Why? Because I forgot that I wasn’t in charge, anyway. I took back control when things got more manageable.

Friends, when you forget the goodness of God, get back on the horse. Leave the shoulds, the guilt, and the oughts of regret behind.

#3 Write it down – the good stuff needs to be marked

The people of the Old Testament often created standing stones, Ebenezer’s, markers of gigantic moments when they saw the presence and the promise of the Lord bold and bright. They knew what we should know by now – that forgetting is part of the deal and writing out a highlight reel helps us remember. I write for that reason. And you can mark things too (even if it’s not writing you love).

And especially as we enter the Advent season, it’s an easy time to forget because, dang it, we’re so busy. I love that Dave Barry describes the Christmas season as “a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.”

Even as I write this I must push aside the baking, the Amazon-ing, and retrieving the Christmas stuff from storage to express that I don’t want us to forget. My wish for you is that you would remember in a new way the presence and peace of a little baby in a manger and that God - this God we try to replace and re-create and improve upon - wanted His son to walk with us, teach us, die for us.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever put on top of your car and forgotten right before you drove away? Is there something you are doing this season to truly remember? I’d love to hear about it!

Megan's Take:

Oh man. I forget to remember all the flipping time! And I can vouch that these anecdotes you've shared are indeed true. You are certifiably forgetful. :) But to forget God. In this time that is expressly dedicated to him. The possibility of that grieves me to no end. I love your take-aways! A symbol. So good. Hot air balloons are my "God winks." When I see one, I know He sees me. I love that you wish for us to see God in a "new way" this season. That is my prayer! For sure. Thank you for reminding me to open my eyes and expect the unexpected. Because, after all, that's God's specialty. (PS I have definitely forgotten my coffee mug on top of my car, only to be reminded when the milky hot liquid ran down my windshield. Oops.)

 

Holly's Take:

This is hard for me to relate to.  I'm not very forgetful. And that is the biggest lie I have ever written.  I hardly have anything to add, because I've already forgotten what was written above.  Every year I start on December first, trying to remember to remember Advent by reading little stories to my kids and letting them eat a little chocolate from their Advent calendar.  By December 13th, we are eating seven chocolates and we are reading the title only of the past week and a half of the advent devotionals.  I feel like I'll never get better at stuff like that, but I love God's grace even more and more, as I continue to forget.