“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness…” Deuteronomy 8:2.
Remember. I have been struck recently by how many times this word is used in Scripture. It is often accompanied by a caution: “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God.”
On the surface, it seems impossible that we could forget about God – the Creator of the universe, the one who knit us together and sustains us, the one who died to bring us back to Himself when we wandered away. And yet, God knows that in our human flesh we have a tendency to forget about Him.
Again and again, the Israelites of the Old Testament did just that. They moved into the Promised Land, they prospered, and they forgot. They said to themselves the very words God warned them against: “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me” (Deuteronomy 8:17).
As easy as it is to be critical of them, I know that I often do the very same thing. I want to think I’m in control; I can do it. It is actually a great mercy that God does not let us live under this delusion for long. He uses circumstances and people in our lives to show us our weakness and our need for Him.
You’ve probably heard the cliché, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Almost universally, we turn to prayer when threatened by situations we recognize as bigger than ourselves – gunmen in schools, natural disasters, disease, terrorism. If only we could remember that it’s all beyond our control. As Jesus said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
One of the most fulfilling things about working at the Union Gospel Mission is how “in your face” God’s presence is. On our own, we could not feed 1,000 people a day. We could not build an $8 million shelter or convince someone to give up an addiction. We certainly could not change a heart or move people to care about the homeless. That’s all God.
Tiffany, whose powerful story appears in this issue, explained how God pursued her: “I believe God had all this happen for me to get off that track of being with abusive men and being around the people I was around. I think He knew the only way to talk to me, to get me to understand what life is really about and how to get there was through my children.”
We have a tendency to go along every day thinking we only need to turn to God in a crisis, but in reality, our very breath is a gift from Him. My prayer for you – for all of us – is that we would use this Christmas season as an opportunity to remember who God is and to acknowledge our complete dependence on Him.