"Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands.... Keep in mind that the Lord your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son." (Deuteronomy 8:2, 5 HCSB)
We remember what we ought to forget and forget what we ought to remember. We will remember some hurtful word said by someone, which ought to be forgiven and forgotten, and will forget the helpful deed the same person did previously, that we should recall. We will instantly be able to recount some gossip in vivid detail, but have difficulty reciting a Bible verse. We remember some disappointment in life, where it seemed God didn't care, and become resentful, forgetting many blessings in life where God displayed His care, and fail to rejoice.
God warned Israel that they shouldn't forget to remember the lessons He had taught them. It was in the School of Hard Knocks, and it took them forty long years to graduate. Their parents had died and would not even see them get their diploma. The older generation that came out of Egypt failed the test and they didn't graduate. As the remaining Israelis moved on to their graduate studies in Canaan, if they forgot the prior lessons, they would suffer the same fate as their forefathers.
"Remember...learn...keep in mind...careful that you don't forget...understand...imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. Teach them to your children...write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." These expressions and six other similar references are given in only four chapters of today's Scripture reading. Get the point? DON'T FORGET TO REMEMBER!
Such stupid sheep we are! Dim-witted and deaf--our hearts hard and minds dull--that is our tendency. How quickly we wander away from the Lord, our Shepherd! That is so dangerous! A wolf waits just over the hill, ready to devour the unwary.
We must constantly tune in to the Shepherd's voice. The same lessons must be indelibly engraved in our hearts and minds. We must ingest the truth, ruminate on it as sheep do when they eat, get every morsel of spiritual nutrition, fueling our devotion as the Word becomes part of us. Then tomorrow we must feed again--and the next day, the day after, then as long as we live. Moses told us, and Jesus reminded us, "man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 8:3 HCSB; see also Matthew 4:4)
If we are not careful, the cares of the world will sweep over us like a tidal wave and drown out the Spirit's voice. We had good intentions. We just got busy. We didn't mean to forget. Now, the day is spent. Where did the time go? Collapsing on the bed, we promise, "Tomorrow--I'll catch up on my Bible reading tomorrow--too tired now." For some strange reason, the clock doesn't go off the next day, or we remember an early appointment we had forgotten and now we're compelled to rush out the door. The appointment with God? We forget about that. There are deals to make, children to shuttle, TV to watch, Facebook posts to do, and little by little, as time slips away, we likewise slip farther and farther from God. All that remains is a nagging sense we are forgetting something, but just not sure what--oh well--there are more important things to think about. I have to meet someone today. They have a deal for me, they promised. Sounded so enticing. What was their name? Wolf, I believe it was.