Is there something in the future of your life you sometimes wonder? And even worry a little bit – hey we’re human and I know Jesus tells us not to, but we just do sometimes.
What is yours? I admit I wonder when I get older if I’ll be diagnosed with dementia and have memory loss. After college, I worked for several years in a retirement community in the health services where the residents who did have dementia lived.
I loved spending time with them and keeping them active, but I understood when anxiety arose in situations because they couldn’t remember what they said one minute earlier. I just wonder if I’ll be one who asks your name five times in one minute!
Even now, I can be forgetful. But I think that has to do with how filled my noggin is with the mile-long to-do list, raising teenagers, work and other responsibilities. Or maybe it’s just being a mom. Anyone else out there who calls your daughter your son’s name or your son your dog’s name?! Or you forget to send your cousin a birthday card for no good reason.
Just last week though, I decided that I want to be forgetful and to see things from a different perspective. I want to be self-forgetful.
I want to be SELF-forgetful and always remember who GOD is, all HE’s done for me, and how much HE loves me. Moses wanted all the people with him wandering through the desert searching for their Promised Land to forget about their selves and instead thank God for all HIS goodness and holiness. They were good at that right after He split the river for them to walk though and when He provided them manna but after a while they complained having to walk so far and ran out of ways to cook manna and started grumbling because they got tired of it and forgot the blessing God had continued to provide them. (Exodus 16, Numbers 11)
Instead of forgetting what God has done for me, I want to forget how to put myself before Him. I want to forget about my selfishness. How I think of myself more than my family, friends and other people I may not even know, how I’m self-absorbed in my busyness and make little time for prayer, how I’m self-centered, pitch a tent, and won’t let anyone in, including Jesus. Somehow, I easily forget the faithfulness and sovereignty of God. I once read a book by Alan D. Wright, God Moments, and he addresses this disorder and called it spiritual amnesia – forgetting God’s goodness in our lives.
Can you find yourself being one of those wilderness wanderers and grumbling how things aren’t going the way you want it to because you had forgotten God’s goodness to you earlier? If so, you’re not the only one who has a case of spiritual amnesia because I do too.
There’s been times, and maybe for you, too, where I’ve had a spiritual mountain-top experience – and grown closer and become more intimate with Jesus. But then after a few weeks back into work or school and day-to-day life, a challenge will arise. Or something will occur that I wasn’t expecting that bombs my world. Why, God?! Then tension and stress take over and somehow I forget the many ways God has been there for me. Those memories somehow vanish! As Christ-followers with spiritual amnesia completely forget about those moments when God was evident and obvious. We begin to whine, moan and groan and even become frustrated, resentful or angry at Him. We forgot the small and big blessings that God continues to give us every day.
I think we’re all subject to be forgetful of God’s faithfulness in the past. We’re all subject to laziness instead of acting on the promises of God and we’re probably all guilty of putting off until tomorrow what Jesus has asked us to do today.
I just finished reading a book where I underlined sentences and drew big circles around sentences on almost every single page. Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God by Brennan Manning. He wrote this:
Our trust in Jesus grows as we shift from making self-conscious efforts to be good to allowing ourselves to be loved as we are (not as we should be). The Holy Spirit moves us from the head to the heart, from intellectual cognition to experiential awareness. An inward stillness pervades our being, and the time of prayer is characterized by less rational reflection and speaking and more contemplative quiet and listening. Self-absorption fades into self-forgetfulness as we fix our gaze on the brightness of the Lord. p. 92
So, self-forgetfulness is an act of worship. It is a gift to God. It allows us to feel His presence, hear His Voice and “gaze on the brightness” of Him. God desires us to replace self-centeredness with self-forgetfulness and put Him first in our lives. He wants us to live in the moment, in the present, in the NOW – not dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about the future. Manning said, “Self-forgetfulness is a prerequisite for truly being in the now.”
Will you join me and help hold me accountable to be self-forgetful? I’m going to close this with prayer if you’d like to join me:
Abba, I surrender my will and my life to you today, without reservation and with humble confidence, for you are my loving Father. Set me free from self-consciousness, from anxiety about tomorrow, and from the tryanny of the approval and disapproval of others, that I may find you and delight simply and solely in pleasing you. May my inner freedom be a compelling sign of your presence, your peace, your power, and your love. Let your plan for my life and the lives of all your children gracefully unfold one day at a time. I love you with all my heart, and I place all my confidence in you, for you are my Abba. Amen.
(from Ruthless Trust p. 132)