Use It or Lose It

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My grandmother and her family moved from Sweden to the United States when she was 12 years old. Her entire family spoke only Swedish, but as was often the case when people migrated here, the family began to speak English exclusively so as to become more a part of the American culture.  Because of that, grandmother as an adult could no longer really speak Swedish, although she said she could understand most of it when she heard it spoken. Even though Swedish had been her first language, she no longer was able to use it.

I had a similar experience when I was in my mid twenties.  I learned American sign language so that I could interpret at church and I also had a close friend who was deaf.  I was good enough at the language that I was asked to interpret at her wedding.  Ten years later, I moved away from my friend and congregation. That church area didn’t need interpreting and I was too far from my friend to use the language.  Another 10 years passed and I rarely signed except for myself.  My family moved to another area where I could interpret once more, but I was surprised just how rusty I had become.  It took me a long time to pick most of it up again.

If we don’t use something, we often lose it

In these two cases, it was a language that was lost, but this also applies to other parts of our lives. Hebrews 5:12 Hebrews 5:12For when for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
American King James Version×
says, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (KJV throughout, Emphasis added)

When people stop eating meat for a long time, the body forgets how to process it and people can become very sick when they return to eating it. One must begin slowly, adding a little at a time and retrain the body to accept it once again.

It is necessary to do something continuously in order to keep it at hand, or in the front of the mind. There is no reason for the brain to retain information if it is not being used. It is stored and then slowly fades away as time goes by.  Unless we read and write, we forget how to spell. Unless we are in a position to use higher math skills, algebra becomes a distant memory. Yes, we can pick it back up more easily the second time sometimes, but it is likely foggy and not easily retrieved. That is one reason why God believes in repetition.

Special Days

God has always used repetition and memorials to help His people remember.  For instance, the Sabbath is a weekly reminder that is very important to God. So important that He warned the children of Israel to keep it or die.  God said it was a sign between His people and Himself:

“Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. (Exodus 31:16-17 Exodus 31:16-17 [16] Why the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. [17] It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
American King James Version×

He said the Sabbath was made for man. (Mark 2:27 Mark 2:27And he said to them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
American King James Version×
) It is a day to rejuvenate and remember God. A day to keep holy.

The Passover is an annual memorial that, in brief, not only reminds us of what happened in Egypt before the exodus of Israel, but it also reminds us of Christ, the Passover Lamb. Christ sacrificed Himself for us.  (Leviticus 23:5 Leviticus 23:5In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’s passover.
American King James Version×
, Exodus 12:14 Exodus 12:14And this day shall be to you for a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
American King James Version×
, John 13:1 John 13:1Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them to the end.
American King James Version×
)  “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrew 9:28), and in I Corinthians 11:24-25 it says,… do this in remembrance (memorial) of me. Definitely a day to keep in memorial!

God’s Holy Days are also set as memorials and reminders. There are seven holy times that each are special to God. We are told to keep these days annually, that they are set apart and a holy time. 

Another holy time is the Feast of Tabernacles. This festival was a time when Israel would travel to a place God had chosen and live in temporary dwellings for one week. The first day of thatweek is a holy day, a day in which no work is to be done.  It is a time to honor God, all He has done for His people and all He will do in the future. It is celebrated just after the fall harvest when Israel counted their blessings.  These same days represent a future time as well. The coming of God’s Kingdom, a time when Christ will reign as Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

As stated, there are seven holy days in all, besides the Sabbath that represent God’s plan. We keep these days annually so that we will always remember. Because if we don’t, we will most definitely forget, just as we do if we don’t speak a language for a long period of time. Yes, we may remember bits and pieces of it when we hear it just as my grandmother did when she heard Swedish spoken.  However, we won’t remember why it is so important and that information will fade away. We will forget all the particulars and forget exactly how to keep them as God instructs.

Throughout the Bible we see God’s people setting up memorials for one thing or another; sometimes it was as simple as a pile of stones to commemorate an event. Later, as people passed by, they would be reminded of what had happened in that place.  Much like people do now only in grander fashion with statues and walls.  Imagine walking up to an unmarked headstone in a forgotten graveyard that has been neglected by time; one without words or record. There would be no way for you to recognize who was buried there. The person is forgotten, but for a large stone. We need records, memorials and marked days in order to keep information fresh and at hand.

Just as in America we annually celebrate Independence Day in memory of the founding of our country, it is important to keep God’s special days fresh in our minds.  On Independence day, we may read our history books to find out more about the day.  We can look to our Bible’s to learn more about God’s special days.

To find out more about God’s Holy days, read the Bible study aid, God’s Holy Day Plan.

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