In this life, we learn and remember things. We are told if we do this, we will succeed. We spend years in school preparing to succeed and an education opens many doors to all who seek it. Some things we would just as soon forget on purpose.
Some things can only be learned by experience and lessons learned are sometimes both pleasant and unpleasant. I still remember my first-grade teacher. When we did not measure up, Mrs. Shelton’s punishments were unpleasant. I also remember how we outsmarted her by preparing in advance, knowing what she would do if we breached her view of angelic behavior.
But we can’t outsmart God. He knows even the most intimate details of our lives. Other lessons can be learned by study.
We retain only a small amount of everything we learn. But in specialized areas, we can retain knowledge and experience at a much higher rate if we learn to internalize our leanings and experiences.
God’s great plan is for us to gain experience and learn. If we experience and learn to remember and follow him, we are promised we will be able to return to his presence.
Moses decided to give the children of Israel a plan to help them remember God and his commandments. He told them, "Therefore shall ye shall lay up these words in your heart, and in your soul, and bind them for a sign on your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes” (see Deuteronomy 11:18). Moses’ instructions were symbols to elicit action and remembrance. Since Moses went to such great lengths to teach the children of Israel to remember God, it gives us pause.
We must always remember God and his commandments. At baptism, we vow to take upon us the name of Christ and always remember him, so we may have his spirit with us (see Doctrine and Covenants 20: 77, 79). Nothing could be more important. Moses told his people, “ ye shall lay up these words in your heart and soul ”
It is also worthwhile to write ourselves daily reminders, which will lead us to good habits and to success. Many church members at the urging of church leadership keep daily or weekly journals to track their lives and faith, and to remember and encourage learning, experiences and success.
Jesus tells us, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (see Mathew 7:21). We must not only remember and act but do, to the point of doing things for the right reason. We need to do God’s will and that means we must be in tune with the Spirit to know what his will is.
We must teach ourselves to internalize our faith so that it is natural to us and second nature. Going to church on Sunday, we do not clock-in on our arrival and clock-out on our departure. Our faith needs to be sufficient that it goes well beyond that. We show our love for God by remembering to obey his commandments and remembering him always. We are invited to have God in our lives for all the right reasons and to treasure our relationship with him, because it is joyous and right, and because we would not want it any other way.
Mel Borup Chandler and his wife Sandra live in the Newbuy Park Stake in Southern California.