The phone call came one Saturday right after the men’s Bible study at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Arlington, Texas. “Pastor Bahn?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Did we get our dates mixed up?”
“Who is this?” But the wheels were already turning. It slowly dawned on me: I was to have led a leadership retreat that Saturday for a group at Texoma Lutheran Camp, a 2 hour car trip away. They very graciously agreed to wait until I got there, and I got my stuff together and hit the road. That is honestly the only time I’ve actually forgotten a meeting such as that. I don’t forget our anniversary. I don’t forget Diane’s birthday. To be honest, I do, however have a bit more difficulty remembering names. Don’t know why, but I do.
And I have a pretty good grasp of God’s goodness and love. I don’t really forget those things. I urgently depend on God’s mercy, willingness to hear my prayers, and his lovingkindness.
Except when I sort of … well … forget. It just slips off the radar. It’s not like I disavow God’s goodness and place in my life. It’s more like I take it for granted. And in that process, God’s proper place slides to the periphery of my consciousness.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
Hardening your heart is a step beyond forgetting. But how else do you get there? It’s like when the sheep wanders from the flock. He takes a nibble at a close-by tuft of grass, sees another a bit farther away, then another, and another… and pretty soon the sheep is separated from the flock.
We forget God’s grace. We ignore his just claim on our hearts and lives. We blur the lines of obedience and faithfulness just a bit. We give into a temptation. And unless we stop to recognize how far we’ve wandered, we’re well on the way to having a hardened heart. We end up far from God, and worse-yet, hardened hearts don’t care!
That’s why daily repentance and faith are so important. We all wander from the path in thought, word, and deed. God is always calling us back as well. A hardened heart won’t care to return. Don’t harden your heart! Return to the Lord your God…daily!