Updated on May 12, 2016
The Things I Forget to Remember
I have three boys. If you are from the south, this is where you bless my heart. Otherwise, you just ask me about my grocery bill. Because yes, I need my heart blessed, and yes I spend most of my free time at the grocery store. With three boys and a husband, food is important around here. And we run out of stuff all the time. So, my people are always making these lists of things we need. Now, I know that they are trying to be helpful.
But, I just don’t do lists. Mostly because when I rush out the door to the store, I manage to leave these lists – somewhere?? So, I am adopting a new grocery store strategy. No. More. Lists. It is revolutionary, really. You just go to the store and buy what you need. Simple. Easy. Fool – proof.
It works like this: You go into the store with its rows and rows of unending food choices and you simply rely on your ability to remember what it is that you need for the week. You trust that your brain can recall the one thing out of all of these items parading themselves before your eyes that your husband requested. Because you are that good. You can just remember. Right there on the spot. This is your gig.
Umm… yeah. Not so much. Actually, not so ever. This never happens. If you are able to do this, please stop reading right now!
Here’s how it usually plays out. I arrive at home with lots of food and lots of things. But those Ziploc bags that we ran out of last week; the ones we use every day to pack four lunches. Did I remember those? Or the paper towels that are vital in the cleanup of our lives around here. Did I remember those? Or the milk – oh the milk – it gets me every time. No, I forgot it all.
Because no matter what I tell myself, remembering is harder than it looks.
And as much as I want to be able to make the perfect grocery run on my own, a list is really the only way to make it work. (My husband and all of my organized list making friends would like for me to repeat that line again because yeah, they’ve been right all along).
But I don’t like to be dependent on other things. I want to do it my way. And God keeps reminding me that this “do-it-myself” strategy for remembering things isn’t ever going to work – in grocery shopping or in real life.
You see, he never intended for us to be able to do this life all on our own. He knew that we would forget.
Forget that he is faithful. Forget that he loves us. Forget that he walks with us. Forget that he knows exactly what we need. Even if we have heard these things a thousand times in our lives, when we walk right up to the edge of life’s aisles; all the choices dancing before our distracted eyes; we often just flat out forget.
The hard decisions, the crazy May calendar, and challenges of trying to keep up present their cases, and we forget what he has told us. So we grab a little fear and a little doubt and pile it right into our shopping cart. Because it feels like we might need it. We are certain that if we have forgotten then God must have too.
Buried deep in the recesses of the Old Testament in the book of Zechariah is one of my favorite reminders. Zechariah is a prophet whose name means “The Lord remembers”. He was a prophet to God’s people, the Israelites, during a time when they were certain that the Lord did not remember at all.
Haven’t you been there? In the middle of a mess or a new place or an ordinary day and been certain the Lord did not remember you at all. Haven’t you stood and tried to tell yourself that you could do it? That you could make it all ok. That you could remember all the things you needed to. Like the way that I stand in the store and convince myself that I know exactly what we need when in truth, I have no idea at all.
Well, here’s the thing. That’s where God’s people were during the time of Zechariah. They had returned to Jerusalem from exile and were trying their best to rebuild God’s temple. To remember what it had been like when God had dwelled among them. But it just wasn’t working. Nothing was going right. The harder they worked, the less it seemed like they were accomplishing. Sound familiar? Yeah, I felt like that an hour ago.
So here’s what God did. He sent a message to these frustrated temple builders as they stood staring a job bigger than they could accomplish. He whispered these words to them through his prophet.
“This is the word of the LORD… Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord.” (Zechariah 4:6).
The Lord reaching out to his people because he saw how they were discouraged and dismayed. Go tell my people this. Turn them around and remind them. None of this is possible without me. None of it will work without me. Remind them that they need me.
Oh, how he knows us. Oh, how he knows our tendencies to wander and to turn and to rely on ourselves. This verse leaps through generations of believers and breathes life into our own hearts.
Because we think we can. We always think we can. Until we can’t.
And when we can’t remember how faithful he’s been; when we can’t see what’s up ahead on our journey or even how we are going to navigate it all until bedtime, he reminds us, like he did the Israelites of long ago:
You don’t have to be good at this. You don’t have to remember all the things. You just have to remember one thing. You. Need. Me. You need my Spirit in you, beside you, next to you. You need it as close as your own breath. Because it isn’t by your own will or your own power that you will be able to navigate any of this life. It is by my Spirit.
Yeah, that. I just need to remember that.
And a grocery list, always a grocery list.
“Trust in the Lord you God with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6