Sunday, March 09, 2008

Clearing The Mind

Uncluttering, by Patrick D. Odum

Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out, and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved (Matthew 9:17).

May God bless you this day... then write it down!

Well, it happened yet again. I needed to make a call and reached for my cell phone only to find it wasn't where I thought it was. I checked all the usual desk, the car, kitchen counter, the bathroom, by the bed. Nothing. After an hour or so, I had to turn to my last resort. I picked up another phone and called myself. Way off in another room I could hear my clever ring tone, A Beautiful Day , calling out to me. The phone was under the cushions of the sofa in my den. Don't ask.

It seems the older I get, the more things I misplace...eyeglasses, car keys, wallet, my sanity. I'm relatively satisfied I've not completely lost my mind, at least not yet. Hey, many of my friends suffer from similar experiences. I've thought perhaps with my increase in age, there has been such a huge increase in my intelligence that the brain just can't hold it all. However, recalling I'm the same person who once cut down a tree limb while standing underneath it, i've tossed that theory aside.

A good memory is a wonderful thing, but more important is the remembering. What use is a good memory that never has a purpose? But it's in the remembering that we can find purpose, renew faith, and rediscover hope.

In these days we forget so much because we have so much on our minds, so many things pulling us in so many directions. Difficulties come, stress settles in, anxiety rises. We lose focus and patience. Faith and trust fade. All because we have forgotten to remember. What can we do against this spiritual erosion that slowly wears us down? The answer is very simple.

Years ago, Moses was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. They witnessed plagues and water turning into blood. They were there when the angel of death passed over. They saw the Red Sea part, crossed on dry land, and watched the Egyptian army drown when the waters returned. They followed a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When they were hungry, they had quail in the evening and manna in the morning. All these things came by the hand of God. But they forgot to remember.

Life in the wilderness was hard and in their thirst, they complained bitterly. At God's command, Moses struck a rock and water gushed out. He called the place Massah and Meribah, which mean testing and quarreling , because in their time of difficulty, the people had cried out, Is the LORD among us or not? (Exodus 17:7) Though they now had water, everything soon took an even more serious turn. They were attacked. But God had not abandoned them. With Moses holding high the staff of God, Joshua took some of the men and fought back. After a long day's battle, they finally defeated the Amalekites.What happened next gives us encouragement today.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered..." (Exodus 17:14a)

Write this! Over and over in the Bible we see such words. Write this down...on stone tablets, parchment, scrolls, staffs. The Ten Commandments, the Law, the Prophecy, the covenants. The names of leaders, the history of families. Songs of praise. The ways of God and those of His Son. Time after time, God has instructed His people to write it all down as something to be remembered.

Why? Because when we don't write it down, we forget. We forget about blessings and answered prayers. We forget His promises and His presence. And soon the only thing we can remember is how hard life is. Hope fades and we cry out, "Is God with me or not?"

You want some real encouragement today? You want to recharge your faith and trust in God? You want to walk into a new day with the assurance that whatever comes, you will be able to stand because God is by your side and He will make you stand? Then begin to write it down.

Take a journal, notebook, even a scrap of paper. Think of your life, what happened years ago and what occurred yesterday. Record your blessings. Big or small, it doesn't matter. Make a list of your prayers and the answers you've received. Jot down when God did something you least expected.

And write down your complaints with Him. Yeah, that's right. He didn't abandon His people in their wilderness and He won't abandon you in yours. You think He doesn't already know how you feel? Write them down and see how He responds. The problem with the Israelites was not that they complained. Jesus walked on this earth and knows how difficult life can be. The problem was... they forgot to remember.

So do it. Make time each day or once a week, but do it. Don't rely on memories alone. And when life comes crashing in, go back and read about your Heavenly Father. He's something worth remembering. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. Isaiah 64:4-5a

Take care and be God's, Chuck