I can be forgetful.
I have forgotten where I have placed my keys, pens, and the TV remote numerous times. I have forgotten family members’ birthdays. I forget to pay a bill every now and then. Occasionally, I forget where I parked (malls are the worst!). The other day I couldn’t remember the address of our center. Once, I even forgot my third born (and no, Jordan was not in a baby seat on top of the car!).
Thankfully, my forgetfulness hasn’t created too many problems for me yet (with the exception of the Jordan incident; Lori was pretty upset). Yes, my forgetfulness has caused some inconvenience and embarrassment. A few hurt feelings. Some extra dollars. But nothing life-debilitating.
There is a forgetfulness, however, that is deadly. It is called “Forever Forgetfulness.”
Forever Forgetfulness is a fixation on the here and now. It is a focus on the present life at the expense of the next. While most people believe confessionally in an afterlife, such has no functional value in their daily lives. By that I mean, eternity has no formative significance in the way most people live their everyday lives. And such is devastating.
Here are some of the consequences of Forever Forgetfulness:
Forever Forgetfulness causes us to unwittingly demand of people, places, and things satisfaction they are unable to provide. No relationship, material good, or earthly achievement can ever provide the paradise our hearts seek. As the writer of Ecclesiastes proclaimed, “everything under the sun is vanity.” Expecting otherwise invites disappointment and frustration.
Increased Heartache Amidst Suffering
Forever Forgetfulness makes present troubles and losses all the more hurtful and devastating. Losing sight of the hope that one day God will totally and finally defeat sin and suffering once and for all can cause today’s misfortunes and tragedies to take on more significance and weight than realistic. Living in light of eternity does not remove the pain, but is does make present trials and troubles more tolerable. All is well that ends well.
Forever Forgetfulness causes us to become fixated on ourselves. If this present world is all there is, why look out for anyone else? Why restrain yourself? As the Apostle Paul said, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’” (1 Cor. 15:32). If there is nothing beyond the grave, why care for others if it does not ultimately benefit you?
Forever Forgetfulness makes the pleasures of this world and the temptations of our flesh all the more appealing. Forgetting the future reckoning that awaits us all weakens moral seriousness and resolve (see 2 Cor. 5:9-10). Wrongdoing becomes even easier. After all, what is to prevent us from throwing off all restraints and becoming a law to ourselves when we dismiss the reality of the Judgment before us?
Lack of Motivation
Forever Forgetfulness leads to a loss of energy and vitality. It brings about weariness of soul. The suffering which surrounds us can become mentally and emotionally crippling if we do not fix our attention on the promise that God will one day make all things new. All that is broken will be fixed, what is decayed will be restored, wrongs will be righted, and justice will prevail. Such hope invigorates and propels us forward.
Forever Mindfulness is important.
It gives a sense of priority and proportion. It brings clarity and focus. It guides our pocketbook and career choices. It directs our leisurely and recreational pursuits. It affects our marriages and parenting. It shapes our attitudes and forms our beliefs.
Nothing could be more practical.
As C.S. Lewis reminds us in Mere Christianity: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm
and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).