Friday, April 18, 2014
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Forgetters and those forgotten

One of the most beautiful characters in all the Bible is Joseph. On his way to greatness Joseph was done in by a lot of folks. His own brothers sold him into slavery. His employer’s wife tried to seduce him, then had him thrown into prison when he spurned her advances. While in prison he experienced a wound common to most of us. He was forgotten. Here’s the story:

 

Joseph was joined in prison by two of Pharaoh’s special servants, his cupbearer (butler) and his baker, when they offended the king. Joseph was assigned to attend these two. In the course of their imprisonment each of them had dreams. Joseph was able to tell the cupbearer that the fulfillment of his dream would result in his being freed from prison and restored to his place in the Pharaoh’s service. The baker’s dream predicted his death.

Joseph was sick of prison, and he asked the cupbearer to plead his case to the Pharaoh:  “When all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. For I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon” (Gen. 40:14-15).

Did the cupbearer remember the kindness of Joseph?  Did he negotiate an appeal for his friend once he had breathed free?  He did what so many of us do. He forgot. “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph:  he forgot him.”

I suspect that each of us has been both the cupbearer and Joseph in our own stories. I have certainly been both the forgetter and the one forgotten. Both roles can produce profuse pain; however, I think I would rather be the one forgotten than the one who forgets. Let me explain.

 During our dating years (almost four) I made it a practice to get out of the car and proceed to open the door for Janelle when we went anywhere. I was influenced by the example of Brother John Wills when I was a child growing up in the church in Killeen. Brother John extended that courtesy to his bride of fifty-plus years every time they came to church. That was the proper thing to do, wasn’t it?

Some time after we were married, I jumped out of the car one evening and proceeded into a restaurant only to discover that Janelle was not with me. Sheepishly, I went back to the parking lot to discover that she was sitting in the car with her hands folded waiting for me to open the door. I’m telling you--I’d rather be the one forgotten than the one doing the forgetting!          

 Then there was the morning I forgot to announce the arrival of a lady’s new grandbaby. Nothing I did in the way of apology could assuage her anger. It was years before my slight was fully forgiven. No doubt about it — I would rather be forgotten than the one who forgets.

I remember the morning Mike Miller called and asked me if I were sick. Why should he have thought I was sick?  Because I did not show up to speak at the Kiwanis Club that morning. Even going before that club the following Tuesday and asking them to sing a couple of verses of “Just As I Am,” so that I could come forward and confess fault could not fully remove the embarrassment of my failure.

It is bad enough to forget folks. What about forgetting God?  He has remembered us so significantly with his grace. We must not forget Him and all He has done for us.

 

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” — Psa. 103:2