On a bitter cold Chicago afternoon, I pulled into the remote parking lot at O’Hare airport. I hurried off for a quick trip to Atlanta. I landed Saturday evening dressed for a Christmas party. Big problem. There had been heavy snow, and I had forgotten where I parked my car. I trudged through the snow dragging my suitcase, yielding no success. A kind shuttle bus driver spotted my pathetic pursuit and asked, “How can I help you”? I unburdened my dilemma with tears in my eyes, and she kindly invited me to climb aboard. She encouraged me to stand by the widow, clicking my remote as she weaved up and down the rows. At last, we could see the faintest of headlights flicker under the snow. I wiped my tears and wished her a Merry Christmas.
Forgetful Covenant Breakers
Stubborn self-reliance followed by weariness, frustration, and resignation to quit is a recurring picture of my forgetfulness. Like Winnie the Pooh, the bear with very little brain says, “I do remember, but then when I try to remember, I forget!” Every day I fail to remember things more important than where I parked my car, like the bigger story of what God has done. When you forget the Big Story, you forget who God is, who you are, and why you exist.
Forgetfulness is not a personality problem; rather, it’s a sin problem. Sin breaks all things, including our capacity to remember and think biblically. God’s people are always in danger of losing their memory, forgetting who they are and whose they are. We are Covenant-breakers, but we serve a Covenant-keeping God. He never forgets His promises or His people; He never suffers from memory lapses. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.
When we fail to remember our great God, we can trust that He will never forget us.
Covenant Remembrance Engages Head and Heart
To remember something is to intentionally consider, be mindful, or call attention to something. To ponder or delight in something requires stopping, noticing the dimensions, and treasuring its value. I think learning to engage in Covenant remembrance engages both the head and the heart. Actively, intentionally, and affectionately reflecting on Him. Rehearsing, recalling, and enjoying the Story of His glory.
Last words are potent. Moses is standing on the banks of the Jordan, ready to cross into the Promised Land. He has led these stiff-necked forgetful people for decades. Since he will not be able to travel with them, he chooses his last words carefully. “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Deuteronomy 4:9). Moses anticipates a temptation that often accompanies success— forgetfulness. He warns them to take care and keep vigilant watch over their hearts and minds. He wants God’s people to remember who they are and whose they are. He also reminds his spiritual children to remember corporately. Their eyes have seen a story that needs to be shared, reminding the next generation what is true. They need to think biblically and live covenantally. Remembering the content of the Covenant in the context of the Covenantal community is what it means to be a part of the family of families.
Just like the Israelites, I am also prone to wandering, distraction, and forgetfulness. I have spiritual amnesia. It doesn’t take much to forget; it’s the default of our mind and heart. I wander around in self-reliant circles rooting my identity in my abilities or what others think of me, rather than my identity in Christ. I get distracted by lesser things, idols, such as the fear of man, comfort, or worldly success. I quickly forget God’s goodness and provision and resign myself to fear and anxiety.
Spiritual amnesia should lead us to repentance and faith. The Lord is gracious to transform a repentant heart into a remembering heart. And one of the ways He does that is through His Word. Just in Exodus alone, we find a number of covenant remembrances:
Covenant remembrances from Exodus that inform my forgetfulness
- Our journey through the wilderness of pain and trials is rarely easy, often longer than we expected, but always part of God’s sanctifying path for my heart (Exodus 13).
- God never slumbers or sleeps and is lovingly guiding me day and night (Exodus 13).
- When insurmountable obstacles loom larger and deeper than the Rea Sea, He will make a way (Exodus 14).
- Each day provides an opportunity to sing of the goodness and greatness of God’s protection (Exodus 15).
- God’s daily provision is sufficient for today, and when I try to borrow tomorrow’s provision, I am left with a rotten result (Exodus 16).
- God quenches the thirst of parched and withered up sinners by providing Himself–Living Water (Exodus 17).
- Sin and unbelief overflow in complaining, doubting, grumbling, and take me farther than I ever intended to go and take longer than I ever expected (Exodus 32).
- My heart is easily distracted by shiny golden idols, trading lesser things for ultimate things (Exodus 32).
- Desperate children are prone to wander, disobey, and forget, and their heart’s cry should be, show me Your glory! (Exodus 33).
- The Gospel is the only hope for stiff-necked and sin-sick people to rest in the promise of His presence until they get Home (Exodus 34).
Are you forgetful as well? Join me in remembering to remember.
Remember to Remember! Click here to listen to the Spring 2021 enCourage podcast series and download a monthly guide to help you remember what is true.
About the Author:
KAREN HODGE serves as the Coordinator for PCA Women’s Ministry, where she seeks to connect women and churches to one another and to sound resources. She is also having the time of her life serving alongside her husband, pastor and best friend Chris, as they plant King’s Cross Church in Fort Mill, SC. Chris and Karen have two adult children, Anna Grace Botka and Haddon Hodge. She is the host of the enCourage podcast and along with Susan Hunt, authored Transformed: Life-taker to Life-giver and Life-giving Leadership.