It’s easy to forget. Not that we do it on purpose – although selective amnesia can be convenient and an excellent defense. But even in a life not lived at the speed of light, like mine, there seems to be so much going on.
I keep a digital calendar, as well as the beloved paper one, just because there are a few events and responsibilities I can’t afford to miss – like picking up kids.
Sometimes, even multiple calendar entries don’t help – like when I make the date, put it on the calendar – and then promptly forget to let Tim in on the plan.
So, forgetting is a liability. It’s something we humans deal with every single day. We ask forgiveness and use it as an excuse, but have little patience when others inconvenience us with their “memory lapses.” It’s a frequent answer for those on the witness stand because there is no way to prove otherwise. It’s a child’s attempt to score a free pass on homework and curfew. It comes and goes as it suits us, or as we get older, or as we live in the real world as real, flawed, and humanly people.
An even bigger liability is we let our forgetfulness slide – we let ourselves forget that we have forgotten. We use a weak memory as a reason or excuse and then, instead of getting better at remembering, we forget our past blunders and continue to blunder our way through life, asking for forgiveness but doing little to make real changes.
I’m certain our digital calendars with built-in reminders – a day, an hour, ten minutes in advance – do keep us more on our toes. Truth be told, however, I seem to be able to disregard – i.e. forget – even the most persistent Tinkerbell-like Doo-ta-Doooo’s coming at regular intervals from my phone.
But, despite the fact our lives are busier, more hectic, more demanding, just more than ever before in history, despite the fact that we have multiple ways to keep track of ourselves and our families, despite the whirring momentum of the modern world with all its plethora of on-line devotionals, daily verses, and encouraging words “delivered right to your email box,” despite all of that, there is one thing so many of us forget – a LOT.
God is everywhere.
With this truth come others, some of which give us great comfort. We are comforted when, in the middle of the storm, we can cry out to a loving God for strength and a calm spirit. We are comforted when decisions loom above and we can go to Him for answers, wisdom, discernment. We take comfort when our little ones get on the bus that first time, or ask for the keys that first time, or drive off to college or a new job or a life with the one they love, because we know they are covered by His love and hand of protection.
I believe, however, that we don’t always remember that God is everywhere isn’t limited to His strength, wisdom, and protection.
God is everywhere we go, hearing whatever we say, seeing our eyes, reading our body language, looking deeply into our hearts every moment. And I think we forget that.
In recent days and weeks, I have found myself cringing and recoiling from what I hear and see not only on social media, but in the news, in conversations between acquaintances and friends – and adversaries – and in myself. It occurs to me that Jesus may be doing some cringing and recoiling, too.
Good golly, Miss Molly, I’m really worried about us. The more we forget that Jesus is present, the easier it is to simply drift away. The easier it is to ignore cruelty and the misuse of power. The easier it is to accept that the way of the world is the way it will always be.
What can we do about this? What can I do? What will it take for me to be constantly aware of the presence of the Father – not so that I can take comfort in His strength and love for me, not so I can feel safer in rough situations, not so that my life is easier or smoother or more affirmed. Yes, all of His promises are real and available to us as Believers. But there are too many times that’s not what I need to remember.
I need God’s presence to affect my words and actions. I need to remember that wherever I go, whatever I’m doing, with whom and where, whatever I’m thinking and however I interact with those around me – even if they are not aware of what I do – God knows. He’s right there, hearing sassy words, seeing eye-rolls and puffed chests, watching power and entitlement ooze out.
He is right there.
And how different we would treat each other if we remembered that. Although my heightened anxiety and awareness of this have been caused by politics, news, and social media, I see the insidious nature of cruelty and pride sneak into conversations with even my friends and family. Those I love the most. The ones with whom I should have the most patience, I sometimes have the least. The ones for whom I should grant the most grace, I sometimes grant the least.
Forgetting events and dates and important comings-and-goings is part of life and we all need regular and generous forgiveness and to be regularly and generously forgiving.
But when we forget that Jesus is sitting at the table or on the couch, when we fail to feel Him in the board room or classroom, when we don’t recognize His spirit in our homes or at our jobs or coffee shops or bars, when we fail to remember that He is omnipresent, that He is the One we represent, we fail in our most holy of missions: “Love your neighbors.”
Make no mistake, my lovelies. This is NOT about Jesus keeping score of our failings. It is not about a vindictive Father who lays in wait for us to mess up. It is not about working our way into Heaven by being nice.
No. It’s about being the best Jesus with skin on wherever we go, with whomever we meet, in whatever situation we find ourselves. It’s about following the call, described by Paul: “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:1-2
It’s not easy to remember. We need to strengthen those memory-muscles. And we need to be mindful, as we work, play, interact, watch, and listen that Jesus is counting on us to carry the Good News, to be the Light.
I don’t think there’s an app for that, but I’m guessing that a PostIt note reminder (or several) and daily (or hourly) Doo-ta-Doooo’s could serve me well as I get better remembering to remember: Jesus is near.