I didn’t use to be forgetful. In fact I would dare to say that I actually had an excellent memory. I could remember almost anything without writing it down, making notes, or having to re-look something up. It was pretty awesome actually. Then came my late twenties. I’m not sure exactly when it started, but as life got more complicated and stressful, I became more and more apt to forget. The things I want to forget are still there, but the things I want or need to remember seem to leap out both ears with extreme regularity. It’s a difficult thing to get used to. I’ll go to the grocery store for a few things and get half way home before I realize that I haven’t got half of them. Or I’ll go to the gym and be in the locker room before I realize that I didn’t bring any shoes to workout in. Remembering things was easier.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the trivial stuff that I forget. Lots of it is pretty important. Things that if I remembered, I think my life would play out differently. I’ve struggled for a large part of my life with issues of self-confidence. I seem to not be able to remember the successes in my past, and have no trouble bringing up the times that I have fallen flat on my face. I’ve always thought that if I could remember more of what I’ve learned from my mistakes, and less of the mistakes themselves, I could be a much more confident person. I’ll get glimpses of it from time to time as I face situations that I’ve been through before. Things happen and something in my head clicks and says, ‘I’ve done this before, this is what worked and what didn’t.’ In such cases, I am able to approach the situation with a kind of swagger that I otherwise wouldn’t have. If you’ve ever experienced it, you know what I’m talking about. A calming and yet invigorating confidence, that allows you to operate at what feels like an optimum level. Remembering things is better.
Part of being a Christian means a belief in the supernatural. It can seem quirky and strange to believe in things that you can’t see with the naked eye, or prove in a lab, but it is a component of having faith. It’s because of this belief that I am compelled to heed the words of the great author C.S. Lewis when he said; “readers are advised to remember, the devil is a liar.” This is a truth I have known since my youth, it was taught to me in Sunday school. And yet somehow, I always seem to forget. Circumstances will present themselves, situations will come up, and I will more often than not find myself ruminating on the possible negative outcomes, as opposed to what I know to be true. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
I have an enemy. Someone who wants nothing more than to see me crippled by my fears and failures. To see me waste my time thinking about the things I can’t change as opposed to those I can. Someone who will go to any length to see me forget the plans God has for me and remember all the things that stand in my way. Now I’m not one of those people who blame the devil every time something goes poorly in my life. I’m a sinful person, I make bad decisions and so do the other people in my life. Together we’re responsible for a lot of what’s “wrong” in my life. But so often I seem to forget that I’m under attack, that I need to be alert, and develop a battle plan. The Apostle Peter puts it this way,
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
I’m glad he put it that way. The truth is none of us would be able to ignore a lion were it in the same room as us, trying to devour us. We’d figure out real quick what we needed to do to stay alive. But we have a tendency not to have the same urgency about our spiritual lives. Instead we sit back and buy into the lies, and allow our opponent to eat us up, piece by piece.
“You can’t do that.” “You’ve got no future.” “You’re a failure.”
Lies. Lies intended to help us forget who we can be. Who we are meant to be, if only we can remember. Remember that our success is not only dependent on us. Remember that our glory is not our end goal. Remember that grace isn’t fair, and that we’ve been given a gift we don’t deserve. We have been chosen. Chosen with a love that is unparalleled, bought at a price we cannot repay. These are the things we need to remember. If we can our lives will be different. Our world will be different – and our enemy will remain defeated.
So do your best to remember. Write yourself a note if you have to, put it where you’ll see it. Remind yourself as often as you can that while your enemy would love to bring you down with his lies, there is One whose truth will always set you free.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10-11)