August 1, 2016

Often forgetting, always learning

The psalmist asks that God would not cast him off in his old age. He also hopes to never cause others to stumble because of his sin. His desire is to be part of God’s solution for the world, not part of the problem.

I read that and echo his heart. As I age, I wonder if God is finished with me, and if He is, would He then began to work on those for whom I pray but have not seen any answers?
One incident in the New Testament hints at this thought . . .

“When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.” (Matthew 11:1)

It seems that Jesus was done teaching those men and then went to take care of those they loved. However, this is only for a short time. Jesus never finished instructing his disciples. Even after He ascended to heaven, He gave this promise:

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25–26)

Not only would the disciples need more teaching, they also would need help remembering what they had already learned.

I fully relate to that need. Every day God is teaching me, but more often He reminds me of something that I once learned but forgot.

In my other blog called “Life in Parables” I am posting a collection of articles published in a weekly newspaper over seventeen years. Before I post them at a rate of three a week, I edit for typos, etc. and am astonished at how often they speak to me, bringing to mind truth that God taught me back in the 80s and 90s, yet some of which seems fresh and new.

Such is the problem of the human mind. In ourselves, we rapidly learn how to talk and to function from a very young age. No one ever forgets how to ride a bike or how to swim. But when born again into the family of God, the learning process seems far more challenging. Every lesson seems to need several “trips around the mountain” and even then, it seems we don’t get it.

Old habits are hard to shake, but a bigger reason is that God wants me to depend on Him, not on my own abilities and skills, and not on the way I did it last time or learned it yesterday. Every problem, every challenge calls for a renewed seeking, a renewed dependency. If I could remember how God told me to deal with it in the past, then I would merely depend on a remembered course of action, not on God.

Besides, as Chambers says, if I think I know the way God is going to work by how He worked in the past, He will disprove my presumptions by never working that way again.
I cannot second-guess what He is going to do. However, there is much He wants me to remember. Here are some samples . . .

“So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.” (Numbers 15:40)
“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)
“Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered.” (1 Chronicles 16:12)
“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth . . . .” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:20)
“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers.” (Philemon 4)
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)

These days, I observe many of my peers having memory problems and myself also. As I forget names and such, my prayer is that I will always be able to remember the teaching of Jesus. His work in me will not be “finished” until life is over, but until then, may He continue to teach and send His servants to preach and teach the gospel in our cities and our world.


Darrell said...

I want to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Darrell said...

Oh’ the things God wants to do, but we hinder! The world is not our great hindrance. The “Enemy” is not our most deadly foe. More than not, we are our own worst enemy in spiritual things. Do I TRUST Him, as I ought; or does weighty and gross religiosity keep me from running with endurance and faithfulness the race that is set before me? Trust and obey, for there’s no other way...