Something strange happens in the nighttime hours.
Every night, when I go to bed, I know who I am in Christ and what I believe about the gospel. It’s a hard fight, and by the end of the day it’s likely a worn-down version of what’s real. But, I’ve fought all day to believe it, and the Holy Spirit has reminded me of who God is and who I am, respectively. Temptations and frustrations alike have pulled at the strands of faith that feels a little thin. Doubts and pain pick at my resolve. From the rising of the sun to its setting, life is hard pressed on every side for the ones who long to remain faithful to Christ. But perseverance and grace propel me to the end of the day with faith intact. I go to bed resolutely resolved to keep believing the gospel. It’s not that the gospel is so weak that I must work hard to believe it. It’s that the gospel forged a new life out of my dead one, and sometimes it’s still hard to believe I am a new creation.
But every morning I wake up with a kind of amnesia. I’m not aware of it, not really. I wouldn’t say I’ve forgotten who I am or who I worship. I could tell you. Quickly, I could tell you while rubbing the grit of sleep from my eyes. My long-term memory works just fine. Still yet, I drag my weary body to the coffee pot while it’s dark outside. I sip coffee for a minute or two, waiting for wakefulness to take effect. I sit on the couch, Bible in my lap, and work hard to force out the forgetfulness that tries to wrap its arms around my heart.
I can’t stop forgetting.
Forgetting is the problem that sprang up in the garden of Eden. “Did God really say….” was all it really took for Adam and Eve to misremember what God had actually said. This is why all of the commands and statues given by God throughout the Old Testament were bookended by declarations of who He was and what He had done for His people. He knew how easily they forgot that He was their rescuer and that they belonged to Him. Golden calves turn up mighty quick when the people of God get distracted.
We’ve not changed all that much, we who belong to the Lord. Though moved from sinner to saint, from old man to new man, I’m still shrouded in this human skin, still fighting to put on the new self every day. And herein lies the remedy for that morning amnesia: renewing my mind every day (Eph. 4:23). I know from years of forgetting that without a morning review of what’s true, I will eventually struggle to separate fact from fiction. I know I’m not alone in this. I sit here each morning in the pre-dawn hours with a long line of believers who’ve fumbled through seasons of forgetfulness and landed in a position requiring regular recalibration to unchanging gospel truth.
Did you ever see the movie “50 First Dates?” The protagonist, played by Drew Barrymore, suffers from short-term memory loss due to a car accident she can’t remember. She relives the same day over and over until Adam Sandler’s character invades her life and puts her on a different course after the two fall in love (over and over). In the end, every morning she must re-watch a video of her life events to reorient herself to the reality she can’t remember. With horror and tears, she must remember the terrible things that have happened in her life so that she can grasp the new, good things that have come since.
In a similar way, when we expose our hearts every morning to the truth of the Word of God, we are forcing ourselves to grapple again with the horrible things that we have done so that we can be presented with the truth of what Christ has done to set us free. Every morning we need to remember who we used to be, what God has done, who we are now, and how we should live with that knowledge. Though we are redeemed, our new hearts are still buried beneath a cloak of human frailty. We live in the tension of already and not yet. Remembering but forgetting. Each day we wake up with a spiritual amnesia that must be addressed anew with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How do we remedy our spiritual amnesia?
Read the Bible every day.
Every single day. I’m not talking about reading a verse that’s emailed to you each morning. I’m talking about sitting down with zero distractions and putting the Word of God in your front of your face. I’m talking about whole books of it; I’m talking long, slow swallows of Scripture every morning. I know the dangers of legalism, so I don’t say “every single day” because you’ll be super-holy in checking off a little box every day. A far greater temptation to me is forgetting who I used to be, who I am now, and what God has done to resurrect this dead heart. As I am still fighting sin and longing for a better country, I need the Word of God every day because I need Christ every day. Renewing your mind each day isn’t done without exposing yourself to the truths of Scripture. Pray your way through the comforting, rebuking, teaching, correcting, eternity-hinging words of God each and every morning (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Neglecting Bible intake will gradually whittle down our resolve to follow Christ because we’ll forget how much we need Him. (A crash course in redemptive history will illustrate my point here, so start in the Old Testament to see what I mean.)
Meet with the people of God.
What I need most from my church is their presence in the pews every time the doors are open. I need them next to me to stand and sing, listen and learn, repent and resolve. I need to know that I’m not living this Christian life alone. My church needs the same things from me. Do not forsake meeting together with the family of God. Living the Christian life in solitude will not help you renew your mind or hold fast to the gospel. I’ve seen it in church ministry more times than I can count: disconnect yourself from the local church and you will find yourself slowly disconnecting from Christ. Instead, make every effort to come together with the people of God to proclaim again and again the goodness of God, the redemption of sins we have in Christ, the gift of eternal life in the presence of God that the Spirit has guaranteed. Let’s remember together who we are in Christ so we can take the very good news of the gospel to the world that is desperate for Him.
We need to remember who God is.
These steps couldn’t be simpler or more straightforward. They aren’t even steps, really. But they are often the very first things to go when life gets hard and unbelief presses in. They are, in fact, what we need the most when life gets hard and unbelief presses in. When we give in to temptation and can’t rise above our shame, we need to remember who God is. When the love of God seems cold and distant, we need to remember who God is. When suffering shows up on the doorstep unannounced and unexpected, we need to remember who God is. When life is full of sweetness and peace, we need to remember who God is. At the very moment we open our eyes in the morning we need to remember who God is.
When you go to bed tonight, make sure you’ve made room in your morning tomorrow to remember who God is and what He’s said to us in His Word. It’s too easy to find yourself standing next to a tree with a hiss in your ear and wonder what it is that He really said.Each day we wake up with a spiritual amnesia that must be remedied anew with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Click To Tweet