“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 8:11-20 ESV
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Psalm 77:11-15 ESV
The Logan children had gone to the store to buy some medicine. The store belonged to a white man named John Wallace. At that time and place, black people never called white people by their first names, but an elderly black man named Tom Bee always called the store owner John. Many years ago Mr. Bee had saved John Wallace’s life, and had taken care of him in his house as if he were his son. Mr. Wallace had promised that they would always be friends, and that Mr. Bee could always call him John. But now, years later, other white people pressured John Wallace to put Mr. Bee in his place. The store owner forgot all the kindness Tom Bee had shown him in the past, and his promise of friendship. The Logan children saw John Wallace take a gun and shoot Tom Bee in the leg.
It’s very easy to forget past kindness and friendship when life goes on and people no longer need the help and concern they once did. Moses warned God’s people Israel not to forget the love and care God had shown them in Egypt and in the wilderness. When they entered the promised land, life would be much easier. They would no longer be slaves. They would become rich in houses and money and animals, and would no longer have the troubles of snakes and desert scorpions and being thirsty and hungry. It would be easy for them to forget God, and to think that they had worked for and earned all the good things they had. They might even listen to people living near them and start worshiping false gods. This is why Moses warned them, because if they forgot God, God would have to punish them.
God has also shown us wonderful love and kindness. He came to us in Jesus to free us from slavery to sin and death. Jesus freed us by laying down his life on the cross and by rising again on Easter morning. When we first see and understand what Jesus has done for us, or when we feel troubled by sins or are afraid of death, we are happy that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. But when life is going well for us, sometimes we forget that God is the one who gives us all our blessings. We might start to think and act as if we’ve earned everything we have all by ourselves, and start to leave God out of our life. But Jesus sends us his Holy Spirit to help us always to remember what he’s done for us, and to always love and serve him.
Dear Jesus, thank you for your great love. Help us never to forget or to walk away from you. Amen.
Taylor, Mildred D. The Friendship New York: Dial, 1987.