My wife frequently praises my memory. That’s coming from one who misplaces items or thoughts daily (and that’s a compliment). What she thinks is a blessing, I often think is a curse. There are things I wish I could forget that are hardwired into the recesses my brain. Now I don’t have photographic memory. That would have been handy for the French exam I had last week. But like most people, I have selective memory. I remember ridiculous things like: sports stats (especially about the Green Bay Packers), song lyrics to bands with big hair from the 80’s, and phone numbers to every house I’ve lived at since I was 4-years old (and that’s a lot of houses).
I dread the day when my memory will decline. As a young child I’d visit my great grandmother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. A once strong and jovial woman was now being spoon-fed from her tender-loving husband whom she had long forgotten. The pain of watching someone you love and care for deteriorate can sometimes be too much to bear.
I am not going to talk about Alzheimer’s today nor am I aiming to offend an elderly crowd. But I do want to talk about a spiritual form of Alzheimer’s that many Christians seem to be suffering.
Problem 1: Forgetting God
While wandering in the Wilderness, Moses told the children of Israel over and over again, “Whatever you do, do not forget God.” They had the attention span of a toddler. They had the best seats to God’s miracles and were still wishing for slavery in Egypt over the Promised Land.
There is a spiritual Alzheimer’s that sets in when you forget that God made you free but you are still live in bondage to this world. The Lord told the church of Ephesus, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5). This warning comes less than 40-years after the gospel first came to them. How quickly have you forgotten what the Lord has done? The good news is that while there is no cure yet for the disease of Alzheimer’s, the cure for forgetting God is repentance.
Problem 2: Forgetting God’s Word
Remedy: Rehearse it
There is another form of spiritual Alzheimer’s; it’s forgetting the Scripture you just read or heard. James the apostle said, “If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was” (James 1:23–24).
My wife and I are in our 2nd month of French language school at Parole de Vie Bethel. We are learning French in preparation for serve in Chad. One of the aspects I really enjoy about our studies is the requirement to memorize Scripture, yes, in French. I began memorizing Bible verses as a teen after a challenge given by my youth pastor. Later I memorized a section of Psalm 119 each week with my South African friend Cal. Again, I am being reminded of the importance of treasuring God’s Word.
Speaking of Psalm 119, David understood the benefit of memorizing Scripture for the sake of his spiritual health. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored (treasured) up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:9-11) According to rest of Psalm 119 the Bible helps guard against sin (vs. 9, 11), brings life (25), strengthens (28), produces hope (49), comforts in affliction (50), gives good judgment and knowledge (66), gives understanding (99, 104, 130), gives guidance (105), and peace (165), and more.
Do you believe Word of God is a priceless treasure? You may doubt that you can put Scripture to memory, especially if you are older. If I offered you $1,000 for every verse you memorized in the next week, how many do you think you could memorize? Yet God says of his word in Psalm 19:10-11, “They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” The real value of the Word is far greater than $1,000 a verse. The cure for forgetfulness is to treasure reading the Bible and proactively rehearse it often.
Problem 3: Forgetting your need of God
Remedy: Daily Dependence
God creates you; He knows you have a finite memory. That is why He has given the greatest tool to aid your memory–His Spirit. Jesus said to the disciples in the Upper Room before His death., “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26; cf. 15:26; 16:14) Do you remember how quickly they forgot it? Soon after Jesus’ death they were back to the boats fishing, and not for men.
One of the greatest joys in the universe is knowing that you are not alone–the God of the universe is your Helper. He is with you forever (John 14:16). And when you read and study Scripture He helping you understand and remember it. The more you read the more He will help you remember. Isn’t that amazing? He uses the Word to give you His peace (John 14:27), His love (John 15:9, 10), and His joy (John 15:11). These are profound truths that comfort and strengthen your hearts and minds in a troubled world.
Proverbs 22:18-19 says: “It will be pleasant if you keep [the words of the wise] within you, that they may be ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the LORD.” How is your trust? Your confidence? Your peace and joy and assurance? Your faith? Your faith rises or falls to the degree that it feeds hourly on the treasure of God’s truth stored in the heart. The cure for forgetting your need of God is having a joyful dependence each day on His Word for your spiritual sustenance.
Forgetting God, His Word, or you need of Him happens. That why it is important to ask yourself often, “Do I have Spiritual Alzheimer’s?”