What God Has Already Done

What God Has Already Done

Perhaps the most under-talked about sin in all of scripture is the sin of forgetfulness, the sin of forgetting that life and livelihood are a gift, and forgetting the gift giver himself. The book of Deuteronomy is essentially Moses’ farewell address before Israel crosses over the Jordan River into the land that God has been promising them since their ancestor Abraham (nearly 500 years earlier). They’ve spent 40 years in the wilderness living on simple manna, but now they are moving into a fertile and abundant land, and they will have every opportunity to forget that the abundant life they live is a gift.

So “remember the long way,” says Moses (Deuteronomy 8). Remember the long and tiresome road by which God brought you out of scarcity and into abundance. Put roots down into gratitude, so that as God brings you from one stage of life to the next, you can constantly be looking back to see how God has been active all along, never forgetting that all the good things you experience are from him.

This remembering is also to understand the wilderness for what it is – not a chore to begrudgingly endure, but a blessing and a gift. It was a terrible, arid, snake and scorpion infested wilderness, Moses says, but it was nothing less than a gift, because the wilderness is the great excavator of human hearts, clearing out the noise, distractions, and constant worries of the world. The wilderness was not something to trudge through. The wilderness was shaping you, forming you, conditioning you to have simple and uncluttered hearts. The wilderness was teaching you that “you do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” These words are of course repeated by Jesus in his own wilderness trial as he resists the tempter (Matthew 4). And by speaking these words in response to temptation, he’s choosing to live in gratitude for what God has already done, not in nervous anticipation of what he wants to happen next.

God has already claimed us as his own, Church. God has already placed us in his presence. God has already given us everything we need to live a life of joy and purpose and provision. God has already given us everything we need to know him and to dwell in his presence. And whatever the future holds for us, near or distant, I hope it’s amazing. But I hope even more that it won’t take away any awareness of how God has already been active in our lives.

Let us put roots down into practices of gratitude, so that seeing every gift is easy and forgetting is hard, because gratitude looks at the terrible, arid wilderness and the land flowing with milk and honey and sees the same thing. And assuming that God’s not going to literally pluck us out of society and force us to live in the wilderness for 40 years, maybe we can bring the wilderness to us, making practices of silence and solitude that create within us simple and uncluttered hearts. Let us learn how to regularly ask questions like,

For what was I most grateful today?

When did I give and receive the most love today?

When was I most connected to God today?


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