Remembering God’s goodness in the past opens the door for us to experience more of God’s goodness in the future.
Matthew 13:3-9 Parable of the Sower
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “a farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where he did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they wither because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil work produced a crop— 100, 60 or 30 times what was sown. Whoever has ears let them here.”
When I was about five years old, I lived in a duplex in Marion, IL. The family who lived in the house connected to ours left me with memories I’d rather forget, but for all the negative there was some good. They had a boy my age named Jerry. Jerry and I often played with each other outside and walked to school together.
One day, unexpectedly, Jerry asked me to walk with him to church. Why, he did that, I’ve no idea. As far as I know none of his family ever went to church and nothing in their lives ever suggested they knew about God.
But come that Sunday morning I remember Jerry and I taking off hand in hand to the Second Baptist church. The little church was about a mile from our home so this wasn’t a short little walk.
I can’t remember there being an adult that went with us, but most likely there was.
At the church Jerry and I sat quietly together in a pew in the back, and when they made the altar call to get saved the two of us went down the center isle hand in hand. When we reached the front, an older man led Jerry off to the left side of the altar while a sweet lady came to lead me over to the right side.
Now I was very young so I don’t remember all the details or the exact time line, but somewhere around this time my mother passed away. I’m not sure if it was right before Jerry and I went to church or right after.
So, it could have been years later that I had my next God encounter. I was in Kentucky at my Uncle’s trailer. It does seem like there was another death in the family, which may have triggered thoughts about my mother so the two events seemed tied together.
The part that is most clear was that the whole family was gathered at my Uncle’s house: There was lots of food, loud talking, and cigarette smoke. Because I was the youngest, I was sent off to bed early. As I lay in my cousin’s bed listening the conversation, I heard them talking about God and heaven.
Suddenly, my heart stirred and I became aware that God was watching me from above. I felt small and unsure so I snuggled my stuffed dog closer. I felt a goodness and love from God that was beautiful. Still, I was so timid that I couldn’t look up, or even talk directly to God. So, I took my little toy dog named O’Henry, who I believed was real, and I told him what I wanted to say to God.
“O’Henry,” I whispered in the stuffed ear, “tell God I love Him.”
Right then God seemed to come into the room with me. I could feel his pleasure. I heard in my heart, “I love you too.”
Sometime later, while I was visiting my family in Kentucky, I felt that God was watching me again. I was playing in the empty lot next door from my Grandmother’s house. The field was covered in milk weed and the Monarch caterpillars were everywhere. I had so much fun picking up the sweet little caterpillars and talking to them. It took me a little while to figure out which end was the head as both ends looked the same, but I felt the Lord guiding me on how to be gentle with the tiny creatures. I felt so connected with the universe as it felt like I was joined with Him in the wonder and beauty of the world He created. It seemed like I played there for hours and when I skipped back to my grandmother’s house I was singing. I thought I was making up a new language as I sang, and I could feel God being so happy with me as He watched me.
It was years later when I was twelve, and again I was visiting my family in Kentucky when I actually understood what it meant to be saved. This time my cousin took me over to her house and she shared the plan of salvation with me. She gave me a Bible and told me to read it every day, which I did.
My life in between those amazing times with God was extremely difficult: Lots of darkness, betrayal, rejection, and abuse. But God had a plan and he sought me out and he made sure I knew He loved me. Now he didn’t step in and stop all the painful trauma from my childhood, but he did plant seeds of his love and salvation, and as He has set me free to love Him more these memories have come back.
We are all so different, but in our Christian faith we share this: God pursued us, offered His salvation, and now is teaching us how to walk in it. For some of us that salvation experience brought a quick change and a divine ability to accept God’s love right away. While others of us have taken the long road where years of pain and suffering often cloud our ability to see Jesus’ love. But fast or slow God does it all, and our only part to play is to believe He will. (Ephesians 2:8-9 and Philippians 1:3-6)
We owe everything about our salvation to God, but why is it we “forget” far more of our divine moments with Him than we ever remember? And why is it so hard to trust and believe in God’s goodness?
We see in the parable of the Sower in Matthew that just as quick as God is sowing seeds of faith into our life the enemy is right there trying to destroy them through hardship, ignorance, and doubt. The enemy is crafty and he is quick to help us “forget.”
This isn’t a new strategy. In Genesis 3:1-13 is the account of the fall of man. When I was studying this passage, I looked up the original meaning of the word “sin” and found something interesting. It means “forgetfulness,” or to “miss the mark.”
My whole life I had assumed that sin was more about my actions based on the list of things the Bible says I should or should not be doing. But, suddenly I saw that Eve’s “forgetfulness” was what led to her sinful actions. Now it made more sense to me why in all the things we do that God is always more concerned about our hearts, than the Biblical list of do’s and don’ts.
In the Garden of Eden God had established a close relationship with Adam and Eve. They walked with Him every night through the garden and they talked with Him face to face. God took care of their every need.
So, what happened? Why would Eve sin? Unknowingly Eve allowed the enemy to twist her words and bring God’s goodness and His intentions for her into question. Isn’t that the same thing we struggle with on a daily basis. God had established such and open and free relationship with Adam and Eve that I don’t think they ever had a clue what that one moment of doubt would do to their lives.
In Matthew 7:9-11 it says,
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
God wasn’t playing mind games with Adam and Eve any more than we would do that to our own children. Nor was He holding something back from Adam and Eve that was good for them. But the enemy brought God’s goodness into question and they “forgot” for just a brief moment how wonderful God was.
As Christians when they say the battle is for our minds: It’s true!
I’m ashamed to admit how often I “forget” how good God is to me. It’s hard to believe that what I chose moment by moment in every life decision will come down two simple thoughts: Do I believe in God’s goodness for my life, or not. Just like Eve my level of trust in God will determine my actions of faith, or my actions of sin.
I know this sounds heavy, but don’t be overwhelmed. God starts right now, right where we are. He is kind and whatever you’re struggling with that causes you to lose sight of His goodness take comfort in knowing that God is not critical of His children and at any point when we turn back to Him asking for help He is right there just like He was for Adam and Eve. He really isn’t playing games with us or withholding good things until we learn our lesson. He is simply waiting for us to remember how much He loves us and to trust Him completely with everything in our lives, even when it’s difficult.
Before Adam and Eve sinned, the enemy was there in the garden tempting her into losing sight of God’s love. After we accept Jesus into our hearts the enemy is there constantly trying to twist the beautiful moments with God into questions of doubt. He wants us to “forget” God’s loving care and goodness in our lives.
According to the parable of the sower it's up to us to treasure those seeds of knowing God goodness by remembering what He's done. The amount of effort we put into cultivating a habit of remembering God's love will determine the yield of our crops of faithfulness; 100, 60, or 30 times what was sown. God didn’t stop Adam and Eve from seeing Him wrong, and He didn’t rush into to prevent them from sinning. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why, but in the end, God has always wanted us to freely return His love by choosing to remember He is goodness over everything else. That’s our part to play, TO BELIEVE in His great love.