25 Lessons in 25 Years – Lesson 7: “It Is All Too Easy to Forget”

We recently returned from a PEACE trip (that’s Saddleback’s Missions Initiative) in Manila. We took a team of parents, staff and 6th graders. We were given total access to a public elementary school, which is something that is quite uncommon in that part of the Philippines. We focused our ministry efforts on 5th and 6th grade students by offering a VBS style event two times each day on their campus. It was one of the most impactful mission trips I have ever been a part of. I cannot wait to go back.

Each night we would hear stories from the parents and students about the day’s activities and what impacted them the most. Without question, the adults and kids who participated in this trip left Manila changed. Changed by what they experienced as they were introduced to a different culture, changed by the realization that God was flowing through them to make an eternal impact, changed because it became painfully apparent that we take so much for granted.

But changed for how long?

You see, I have had the privilege of doing these trips for many years and without exception, people get on the plane to go back to the United States and their world has been rocked. But often, it takes a very short amount of time to reconnect with the attitudes, perspectives and desires we thought would be changed forever…it is called a rut. I know this for a fact because I have been guilty of it myself. It is all too easy to forget, to forget the blessings God has brought into our lives, to forget the fact that God is using us to make a difference for His Kingdom and to forget we have opportunities every day to do something significant while we complain that we are “bored.” It is all too easy to forget the experiences and people who have touched our lives in such a way that we are convinced we will NEVER forget. But because we are human, we do.

Balanced StonesAs you read the Old Testament, it is interesting to see how many times God performed a miracle or delivered the Israelites and immediately instructed them to build a memorial by piling up rocks. For example, Joshua 1-5. The purpose of the rock piles? To help the people of God to not forget what God had done.

Look in the New Testament. Why do you think Jesus gave us communion? We participate in communion so we never forget the sacrifice and great love of our savior Jesus Christ. God created us so, of course, He knows better than anyone how we are wired. And most of us are prone to move so fast that we have a tendency to forget.

Back to the mission trip. I encouraged our students and parents to buy or find something in Manila they could take home, put in a highly visible location in their home or office and pray for those faces and names on a regular basis. I do this with every country I minister in. I have objects from all over the world that make my office look eclectic, if not cluttered. But each object is a “pile of rocks.” When I see those objects, I say a quick prayer for those ministries and people who the object represents. I may never see those people again, but I will not forget them, their needs and my experience with them. It is a simple step to help us not to forget.

There is an old song that says, “Count your blessings name them one by one.” There is a powerful truth in that song. It is wise to take time each week to write out or speak the blessings God has brought in your life. This is one way to keep your mind on what God is doing in your life and keep your thoughts off of what you “don’t” have. I do not want to ever forget how good God is and the incredible experiences He has allowed me to be a part of.

So go ahead build a pile of rocks, find an object that will remind you of that mission experience and each time you see it take a moment and connect with God. It is all too easy to forget.

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