As we took another step this week in our summer long journey through the Big Picture story of the Bible, we witnessed God’s single greatest Old Testament act of deliverance- the rescue of His chosen people from 400+ years of slavery in the land of Egypt. Through a stunning series of miracles, culminating with the parting of the Red Sea (and subsequent swamping of His people’s Egyptian pursuers), God led His people out of the land of their oppression on the fast track toward freedom in the land He had promised to their father, Abraham, centuries earlier.
But apparently, if the story of Exodus is any indication, freedom isn’t quite that simple. Though God’s people came out of Egypt physically free, in a very real sense, they were still enslaved spiritually by their own sinful hearts. This is evidenced by their stubborn doubt of God, constant complaining against God, and gross false worship of other “gods” throughout the remainder of the book of Exodus. All of these things, occurred, mind you, in the span of a few weeks immediately following one of the greatest recorded acts of salvation in history.
It would be easy to point a finger of accusation at the Exodus Israelites if it weren’t for the striking reality that on a regular, I am just like them– and if you’re walking around wrapped in human flesh, so are you. You and I live on the back side of the salvation event which the Exodus foreshadowed- God’s eternal rescue of His people from sin and death through the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches us clearly that if we have trusted Jesus, we are now free in the deepest possible way. We no longer have to live as slaves of sin’s power on us. Free from the weight of condemnation which presses down on all who are without Jesus, we can now run free, putting our faith in God’s faithfulness and possessing His Spirit’s power to obey His Word.
But much like God’s Old Testament people, we are a forgetful bunch, aren’t we? On the winding road of life’s journey, amidst the twists and turns of everyday life in this broken world, we are prone to neglect God’s goodness to us and focus instead on all we feel that our lives are lacking. Here are three key areas where I believe we are persistently prone to forget…
We forget God’s provision. Much like the Israelites who groaned in the desert for food and water, we quickly doubt God’s desire and/or ability to give us what we need. Perhaps you struggle to trust God for physical provision. Or for what you need to face a relationship challenge. Or for the spiritual equipping to fulfill what you believe to be His call on your life. Whatever the case might be, it is critical that we remember that God is not under resourced, and neither is He stingy with His people. There are times when this is incredibly difficult to believe, I know. But rest in this reality- God is an able Provider.
We forget God’s purposes. As we read the Old Testament account, we see that God pulls no punches in telling His people why He has chosen them as His own possession. It is made clear time and again that He desires that they would reflect and represent Him faithfully to one another and to the world as a conduit of His blessing. As New Testament followers of Jesus, God’s purpose is much the same in our lives. Often, though, we abuse the freedom afforded us and use it as a license to indulge our desires and ignore God’s. Let’s not make the tragic error of shackling ourselves to selfishness when God has freed us for something so much better- selfless service of Him and others.
We forget God’s grace. We can give intellectual assent all day long to the reality that we are saved and freed by God’s grace in Jesus, all the while practically living as though our standing before Him is wholly dependent on our performance. Functionally, we attempt to become our own “gods,” and when we do, we forfeit the joy of our freedom and enter into what I call a “shame cycle” of attempting to behave our way into God’s favor. But as the Israelites discovered- and as we all eventually discover- this is a losing battle always. You’ve never had the ability to free yourself from your sin, and when you try to do what only God can, you ironically enslave yourself all over again.
To experience true freedom, it is essential that you make the critical choice to surrender and remember. Though it is true that we are saved by grace at an initial moment of surrender to God, we must daily- and maybe even more- surrender ourselves practically to His leadership in our lives, remembering His faithfulness and resting in it as we pursue His purposes for our lives.
What aspect of God’s faithfulness have you forgotten today?
What would it look like for you to surrender yourself afresh to Him today?
What can you do practically to more consistently remember the freedom He has afforded you in Jesus?