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‘Spiritual amnesia’ can cripple Christians

Later this month, the new Jason Bourne film will be released. I don’t get to see many movies these days, but I will definitely go see this one.

That’s because I have seen all three of the previous Bourne films. In fact, I have seen them all multiple times. There is something about spy thrillers and action that appeals to me.

But the Bourne films are not just about action. They are also about amnesia. They are about a CIA agent who is injured in an operation, and, when he wakes up, he has completely forgotten who he is.

The Bible tells us that we can suffer from spiritual amnesia as well. The apostle James tells us we can become like a man who looks at himself in the mirror, and then walks away and forgets what he looks like (James 1:24). Not only that, but we can also forget who God is.

That happened to the disciples one night on the Sea of Galilee. The previous afternoon, they had witnessed one of the most amazing miracles of Jesus. In fact, they had even played an active part in it.

Jesus had been teaching a large crowd of people. (Mark 6:44 tells us it was 5,000 men, and most scholars believe the presence of women and children would have made it closer to 20,000 people.) Rather than send them home hungry, Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish, and told the 12 disciples to distribute them … to 20,000 people!

But as the disciples began to give the food out, it somehow began to multiply, so much so that everyone had their fill, and they picked up 12 basketfuls of leftovers. The miracle was astounding, and the disciples had seen it firsthand.

How quickly we forget. Later that night, these same men were in a boat, on the Sea of Galilee. They weren’t making much progress, because they were straining to row into a very stiff wind. But then Jesus came striding out to them, walking on top of the Sea.

You might assume they were thinking, “Someone who can do the things we have seen Jesus do can do anything, including walk on water.” But that’s not what they were thinking. Mark tells us, “When they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified” (Mark 6:49-50).

Why did they react this way, especially after seeing Jesus multiply the loaves and fish? It was due to their hardness of heart. “For they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:52).

Our greatest challenge is not outside of us, in our external circumstances. It is inside us, in our hearts. We are so prone to stubborn unbelief. Do this today: Ask God to soften your heart and help you to trust him.

Perhaps you are straining in the midst of a storm right now. Have you asked God to walk into that situation and take over? Your circumstances may seem overwhelming to you, but they are not difficult for the One who walks on water.

Your difficulties may seem over your head. But they are not over God’s head. They are under his feet.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.