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Selective Memory

Selective Memory

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 4:9)

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I suffer from what I’ve heard referred to as “selective memory.” This means that I recall some things with great clarity, while others go in one ear and out the other. And I’ve learned there are mainly two reasons we forget. One reason is that the original information is no longer available. But the main reason we forget is what is called “willful inattention,” meaning that after a certain period of ignoring the information, we can’t remember how to access it.

I am one of those people “raised in the church.” My father was a minister and I went to church whenever the doors were open. I got involved in almost every church group, activity and program possible. And as a poster child of the Christian culture, there is one thing that breaks my heart: I forget.

What I have forgotten about God is enough to change the world. It’s all in there … somewhere. But due to my own willful inattention, it has been filed in my brain somewhere between algebra theorems and what I had for lunch last week. How could I forget the things that are most important?

There is a section in the Old Testament that lists kings as being either good or bad in God’s eyes and tells a bit about each one. In that list, King Josiah is the one who orders the temple to be cleaned up and inadvertently discovers the Book of Law. It had been sitting in a dusty corner of the run-down temple for generations. This book held the details of how God expected His children to live, and somehow it had been lost and forgotten.

The good news is that Josiah was shocked at what had been forgotten for years and, as a result, made some incredible changes. In fact, Josiah responded so positively, the Bible says, “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.” As I read through those chapters in 2 Kings, it seems as if Josiah did several important things in response to re-learning God’s words.

First, he shared the news. Sharing God with others keeps Him fresh in your mind.

Next, Josiah broke, removed and destroyed the clutter. He got rid of all kinds of altars and images that were crowding out the things that mattered to God. If your brain is rummaging through too many things to find the important God stuff, then it’s time to clean house.

And, Josiah ordered a celebration. The Passover was a celebration acknowledging God’s protection of His people, but it had not been enjoyed for generations. Yes, I know you have a lot on your mind, but how about you take some time to celebrate the good things God has done?

I’m frustrated that there are so many important things about God that I’ve forgotten, especially when so many people have never had a chance to hear them for the first time. But it’s encouraging to know that Josiah wasn’t judged for years of forgetfulness but, instead, by how he reacted to being reminded of God’s truth.

Dig Deeper:

2 Kings 22-23

Deuteronomy 4:1-40


Lord, I am sorry for forgetting the things You have taught me. I want to keep everything fresh in my mind. Help me remember all that You’ve done for me and everything that You are. 

RELEVANT’s “Deeper Walk” daily devotionals are presented by the LUMO Project, a visual translation of the four Gospels developed to engage people with scripture in a new way. You can watch the videos—which redefine the standard of visual biblical media—on YouTube, and find out more about LUMO’s mission at their website.

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