Do the mountain waters run dry, the cold flowing streams? But my people have forgotten me; they make offerings to false gods; they made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient roads, and to walk into side roads, not the highway. Jeremiah 18:14-15 (ESV)
The word translated “forgotten” in the above verse is the Hebrew word that means “to mislay, i.e. to be oblivious of, from want of memory or attention … to forget.”1
It sounds so casual, doesn’t it? To mislay God. Like forgetting where you put your car keys. How does that happen? From lack of attention, by being oblivious to his Presence, by not remembering what he has done for us in the past. Just going about our daily struggle alone. But what does God say about mislaying us? The same word is used in this verse:
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:15-16
Like a mother clinging to the baby who is fastened for life unto her breast. There is no lack of attention there, but the compassionate giving and the riveted seeking and receiving of life itself. This is the perfect picture of God pursuing us pursuing him.
My soul clings (abides fast, cleaves fast together, follows close hard after, is joined together) to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:8 (ESV)
You know what the exact opposite of “mislaying” God is?
Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth. Hosea 6:3 (ESV)
That word translated “press on” is radaph (רָדַף) and means to pursue, to run after, to hunt, to chase down. It even means to persecute. This is what God desires, this kind of passion in seeking Him. The idea of persecuting God reminds me of the parable that Jesus told about seeking God in prayer.
In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected men. And there was a widow in that town who kept appealing to him, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but later he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect men, yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice. Then she will stop wearing me out with her perpetual requests.’ Luke 18:2-5 (Berean Bible)
Let us not mislay our compassionate, loving, faithful Lord. Rather, let us cling to him as to life itself. Let us chase after him, even pester him with our attention, for that is his desire.
But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge. Psalm 141:8a
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Psalm 42:1-2
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1
Read about how God pursues us here Chase Me Down
1Definition from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
Photo, Mano! By Aurimas Mikalauskas https://flic.kr/p/6hqwdF (I love how the baby has her eyes fixed on the mom!)