We are a forgetful people.
Trips to the grocery store only to return home and remember that one item; forgotten.
Dates, times, places; things that slip our minds; forgotten.
The name of a new person, introduced; forgotten.
Those are pretty benign. We forget names or appointments or to buy cans of soup.
Forgetting happens in relationships too. I once received a letter from a friend as we were starting to climb out of a rocky patch between us and she told me that she had forgotten all the sweet things about our friendship.
I was completely shocked. How does that happen? How do we forget?
to cease or fail to remember; be unable to recall.
to omit or neglect unintentionally.
to leave behind unintentionally; neglect to take.
There is a stopping when we forget. We become lazy to the remembering. The recounting of events. We fail to remember. And like the definitions from dictionary.com says, it can be unintentional. We might not mean to. It might not be our intent, it just happens.
If forgetting can be unintentional, then we need to be intentional about remembering.
God knew this. He knew we would forget.
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.
It’s hard to forget if you are in love. You remember things when you are in love. A constant bringing to mind of sweet words whispered, notes given and received. Glances. Moments. You cherish and remember them because you love. That’s what God is saying here in Deuteronomy. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Love is hard sometimes. So hang on to it with everything you have – your heart, soul and strength. And when you are teaching your children this fierce love for God you shall do it diligently – or with intent. Talking of it constantly, everywhere, every time. Always. It’s hard to forget something that’s right in front of your face because you should be constantly looking at it; remembering. The truths of God should be bound to you.
Solomon uses the same vivid language of remembering in Proverbs 3.
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
I love the images in both Deuteronomy and Proverbs of binding truth around ourselves so we won’t forget.
It is the ruin of many marriages; unintentional forgetting. It is not your intent on your wedding day, while you stand dressed to the nines, holding the hand of your beloved, to months or years later slip, slide, slither or flat out run from your marriage. But somewhere along life together you forget your commitment. You forget your vows. You forget your promise. You forget your love.
You were unintentional in remembering.
And then there is Psalm 103. The lyrics of King David. He starts off blessing, or giving thanks back to God. He can’t help it, he says his soul and every tiny molecule within him, is longing to bless God. Bless God, don’t forget; he is still using the same breath, bless God, don’t forget. They have to go hand in hand. Bless God, don’t forget. He listed a few things to remember. To make his soul stir with blessing back to God; things he didn’t want to forget. Things he wanted to be intentional in remembering. Things to keep in front of his face. Bound to him.
Don’t forget that God forgives all your wicked acts.
Don’t forget that God heals your diseases.
Don’t forget that God snatched you out of the pit.
Don’t forget that God heaps you with love and mercy.
Don’t forget that God satisfies you with good so you can carry on.
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Be intentional. Diligent.
What truth of God do you need to bind to yourself so you won’t forget?