Don't Forget to Remember...And Remember to Forget

10:43 AMHeather

Last night, around the dinner table, we sat and began to read through our memory jar from last year.  The very first slip of paper was something my husband had absolutely no recollection had happened.  As our kids took turns reading just a few of the papers, it was interesting how much we had forgotten that had happened.


And remember.

Two such powerful words.  And because the passage I last blogged about continues to be thrown in front of me, I've decided I should really camp out on Isaiah 43:18-19.

Forget the former things.  Do not dwell on the past....

I can't even seem to get past these first two phrases to think about any thing new God might be doing that is even now springing up.

The truth is that what we forget and what we remember greatly shapes us.  Where we allow our mind to dwell has everything to do with how we live out our day, how we feel, and how our attitude is shaped.

Just think about it.  When you forget something good that happened, you miss out on the joy and encouragement.  When you remember instead the bad that has happened, you linger in that, often growing irritable and bitter.

Contrastly, when we choose to forget the negative things and instead remember the blessings, then we are encouraged and feel peaceful and hopeful.  

Where we intentionally choose to let our minds dwell has everything to do with how our days go.  What we remember and what we forget are like rudders that guide our ship.  They determine the direction of our thoughts, and then our feelings and then our attitudes and ultimately our actions.

All this mediating on forgetting and remembering made me curious about what the else the Bible might instruct us to forget...and what it tells us to remember.  Besides forgetting the former things and not dwelling on the past, as Isaiah 43 instructs.  

So, here you go.

Some Biblical direction on what we are called to remember to FORGET.

1. Quarrels and anger
When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I'll send word for you to come back from there. Genesis 27:45

2. Past troubles
Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, "It is because God has made me forget all my trouble." Genesis 41:51

You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Job 11:16

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 
John 16:21

3. Complaints
If I say, "I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile." Job 9:27 

4. Former things...the past
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. Isaiah 43:18

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:12-14

5. Past shame and disgrace
Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.  Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.  You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach from your widowhood. Isaiah 54:4

They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid.  Ezekiel 39:26

I think the Bible clearly points us toward being conscientious to let go of shame, disgrace, troubles, complaints, quarrels, anger, and former things that tripped you up.  Choosing to forget these things--intentionally purging them from our minds and redirecting our thoughts is something we can do through the power of the Holy Spirit.  We can be careful in remembering to forget these things...recalling what God has to say about reliving these places and continually resurrecting them.  If we choose to linger there long, we breath life back into these things. And it defeats our ability for forward progress.

NOW, on the other hand, the Bible has much to say about what we need to be sure and remember!  These are things we must not forget to REMEMBER.

1. His commands, laws and decrees
And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?  Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:8-9

Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law. Psalm 119:61

I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life. Psalm 119:93

You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Numbers 15:39

2. His covenant with us
Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he has made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. Deuteronomy 4:23

For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors. Deuteronomy 4:31

Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. 2 Kings 17:38

For I will remember my covenant between me and you...and never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth. Genesis 9:15-16

3.  The Lord himself
Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Deuteronomy 6:12

But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. Deuteronomy 8:18

My soul is downcast within me; therefore, I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon--from Mount Mizar. Psalm 42:6

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Psalm 63:6

When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.  Jonah 2:7

4. The benefits of the Lord and his deeds and miracles
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits. 
Psalm 103:2

Remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt. Deuteronomy 7:18

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. Deuteronomy 8:2

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced. 1 Chronicles 16:12

They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them.  They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery.  But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.  Therefore, you did not desert them. Nehemiah 9:17

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. Psalm 77:11

He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. Psalm 111:4

Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Matthew 16:9

5. Doing good 
And do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

And do not forget to do good and share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16

If you do a word study on a website such as, you will find dozens of verses about what we must remember to forget...and what we cannot forget to remember.

I have claimed the word freedom for myself in 2015.  It would seem that my journey begins here.  With diligently and repeatedly working on my memory.  Choosing where my thoughts will dwell. It's my first baby step toward greater surrender to the Lord.

And I venture to guess, it's quite applicable to you, whatever your struggle, whatever your journey.

So, bloggy friend, here's your homework assignment.  Take a few minutes in prayer and preferably, write out the answers to this question.

What quarrels, anger, complaints, troubles, disgrace, shame, and former things do you need to forget?  Ask the Lord to reveal this to you.  Where have you allowed yourself to be tied down, giving heart and head space to things which the Lord intends to replace with far greater things in order to move you forward?

This is the baggage that you continue to lug around with you on your journey through life.  Causing your back to break and your arms to ache.

When all the while, God actually intends for you to check those bags.  Just turn them in to him.  There should not be a baggage reclaim, by the way.  We must all--self very much included--work over and over and over again to keep those bags checked.  

Isn't it the best feeling at the airport when you've checked all that is heavy and weighing you down and you can walk freely and stop the ache of carrying too much with you?  

I believe this is a key to learning to walk freely and lightly on the unforced rhythms of grace, as Matthew 11:28-32 describes. Coming to him, all of us who are weary and burdened, so that He can give us rest.

And then, in place of that heavy baggage we should forget, the Lord has some incredible things for us to remember.  Some things to fill our minds.  Truths to train ourselves to linger long and hard. 

His commands, decrees, laws, word, covenant, deeds, miracles, benefits,and the Lord himself.  I know I included doing good in the list of things to remember...but here's the truth.  When we train ourselves to stop our thoughts on how great and faithful he is and all that he calls us to do and does for us...the overflow is doing good.  It's a by product of truly understanding who God is and of intentionally remembering the ways he has intervened in our lives.

Forgetting and remembering.  An important rhythm in intentional rhythm which we train our minds to practice.  And our thoughts, attitudes and actions will be transformed.  

I believe this is so key.

To consider...what we must remember to forget.  And release.

And what we cannot forget to remember.  And be transformed. 

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