This poem is based on Deuteronomy 8, in which the LORD warns the children of Israel before they enter into the promised land. They are finishing their 40-year wandering in the wilderness, and they are preparing to cross into Canaan, their land of “milk and honey.” The warning is that, once they are comfortable, filled, settled, and successful, they might be prone to forget the God Who led them through those harsh days in the wilderness. And, the record of Scripture indeed bears out that this happened, time and again.
When we who love the LORD walk a particularly painful, rough road, we throw ourselves on His mercy completely. The third dimensional world fades, and our faith is elevated to heights we may have never before experienced. These are remarkable times of closeness to our God, as we hang onto Him and only Him through the flood and fire.
But later, when the dust clears, and things get back to normal, our tendency is to forget that Hand that held us through it all. This poem is a reminder to me not to forget.
It is written in trochaic heptameter (x/x/x/x/x/x/x), with each line split after the fourth trochee. The form of the poem is ABAB.
‘Til We Forgot
. . . lest when thou hast eaten and art full, . . . then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, . . .who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents,and scorpions, and drought . . .
It happened by degrees, so slow
As seasons change to years,
We didn’t feel the shift below,
The sliding of the gears.
The deprivation once we knew,
The sorrow and the strain,
When nothing in our field of view
Could mitigate the pain,
Now gone and, in its stead, a trust
For blessing, favor, grace.
Awakening, we rose from dust
To Eden’s better place.
How cautiously we tried to walk,
How tentative our tread,
As those recovering, with shock,
When rising from the dead.
But, step by step, our strength returned,
And with it grew our hope.
The locust years behind us, burned,
The future in our scope.
Success now stamped our working days
And pleasure marked our path.
Our journey under Heaven’s rays,
No longer marked by Wrath.
So time sped by, without much thought
Of skies that once were gray.
‘Til we forgot, . . . yes, we forgot . . .
Our God of yesterday.