It was one of those family vacations. A road trip to national parks around the country.
To pass the time, the family decided to see if they could identify license plates on cars from every state. Within hours the 13-year-old boy became completely obsessed with finding all 50 states.
So obsessed that he wasn’t even interested in seeing the sights as they drove across the country or when they stopped at each national park. He just wanted to find license plates. Eventually he got 49. All he needed was one more state…Delaware.
The family’s last stop was Yellowstone National Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the country. But instead of sightseeing, all the young boy could do was spend his time running up and down the parking lots looking for a Delaware license plate. And finally, just before they were about to leave…he found a Delaware license plate. What a relief!
He missed seeing Old Faithful and the other famous geysers, but he had found his Delaware license plate. He missed the thermal hot springs and the rivers and the lakes, but he found a Delaware license plate. He didn’t see the beautiful forests, but he found a Delaware license plate. And while there are bison, bears, cougars, deer, elk, badgers, otters, and a host of other animals there, he didn’t see any of them. But he did get a Delaware license plate.
He had missed one of the most spectacular and scenic places on God’s earth because he was looking for license plates. You may be thinking, “Bayless, that’s amusing, but what’s the point?” Simple. I wonder how many of us are like this 13-year-old boy, looking for “license plates” and missing out on the truly important things in life. I wonder how much of our time is consumed in the pursuit of the trivial and the unimportant.
If you want to find true meaning to your life—if you want to live for what is most important—then you must pursue what God says is important. Because whatever is important to God is what should be important to you and me.
Now, God graciously tips us off to what is most important by using one simple phrase in Scripture: “take heed.” When you see these two words, God is saying, “Give your undivided attention and apply yourself fully to what I am about to say.” One “take heed” phrase that appears a number of times in Scripture is, “Take heed to yourself….” While we are focused on a lot of other things outside our lives, God is concerned that you and I take heed to ourselves.
For example, in Deuteronomy 4:9, God states: Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself (or as other translations put it: diligently guard your soul), lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.
God is telling you and me a simple truth. Don’t forget your encounters with God. Be careful to remember all God has done in your life.
We must remember and rehearse what God has done for us in the past. If we do, it will keep us free from depression, and it will keep us in faith. It will also keep the door open for God to do things in our present circumstances and situations.
The Bible declares in Psalm 78 that Israel limited God because they forgot. They forgot about His wonders and His miracles. And just like Israel—when we forget what God has done—we limit Him in our lives.