By Carey Helmink
As a musician, probably one of my greatest fears is “forgetting.” As a piano major in college, we had something called “juries” every semester. And it really was as horrifying as it sounds. Numerous pages of music had to be memorized and played for a “jury” of professors so you could receive your semester grade.
As I have gotten older and played for numerous weddings and funerals, my fear has become one of forgetting the event itself. I have this recurring dream now and then where I have either missed an event or forgotten my music . . . you get the picture. Forgetfulness is not just specific to musicians, however. In fact, “remembering” is mentioned over 250 times in the bible. Forgetting is not a musician’s problem, it’s a human problem.
The very purpose of the book of Deuteronomy is to remind the people of Israel of what God had done on their behalf and to encourage them to remember and follow him. The last chapter of Ecclesiastes – written by arguably the wisest man to ever live – encourages us to remember our Creator. In fact, we are encouraged to remember him at least 8 times in the first 6 verses of that chapter.
It frustrates me how forgetful and distracted I can be. At my age, you would think I might have this figured out, but I don’t. I can almost hear the voice of Jesus talking to me the way he talked to his disciples in Mark 8:18:
“You have eyes – can’t you see? You have ears – can’t you hear? Don’t you remember
anything at all?”
In John Eldredge’s devotional book, Restoration Year, he says this:
“We’re warned about forgetfulness in Scripture. In the Old Testament, the pattern is so predictable it becomes expected. God delivers his people from the cruel whips of Egypt by a stunning display of his power and care. The Israelites celebrate with singing and dancing. Three days later, they are complaining about the water supply.
They let it slip from their hearts. All of it. This becomes the pattern for the entire history of Israel. God shows up; he does amazing things; the people rejoice. They fall under calamity and cry out for deliverance. God shows up; he does amazing things; the people rejoice – you get the picture.
Things aren’t changed much in the New Testament, but the contrast is greater, and the stakes are even higher. God shows up in person, and before he leaves, he gives us the sacraments along with this plea: do this to remember me.”
When we come together to worship, there are two sides to the coin of remembrance. We cry out to God, like the Psalmist when he says, “Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people; come near and rescue me.” (Psalm 106:4) “Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope.” (Psalm 119:49) Of course we know that God doesn’t need the reminder to remember us, but sometimes it helps us to say the words. And then we remember Him when we come together to worship. “He causes us to remember his wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our Lord!” (Psalm 111:4) We remember who He is, what He’s done, who He has promised to be to us, and our hearts are encouraged not to be so forgetful.
“Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live.” Deuteronomy 4:9 (The Message)