I Have Not Forgotten Your Instruction

Open Your Bible

Psalm 119:145-160, Romans 2:12-13, Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

It was the first time I’d ever stood up in front of our church congregation, some fifteen years ago. Alongside our fellow “new members,” my husband and I looked out over the church body we were joining, as our pastor read our favorite Bible verses aloud and introduced us by name. Never one to go first, I listened from the end of the line as one inspirational verse after another was read into the microphone, each one offering another shade of affirmation, encouragement, and faith. But as I listened for the first time to the verses of other new congregants, I felt panic set in: Had I misunderstood the instruction? The sound of my blood pumping in my ears grew louder, nearly drowning out my pastor’s voice completely, until my husband gently squeezed my hand to hear my own “favorite verse” from Scripture:

“There is nothing better for a person than to eat, drink, and enjoy his work.
I have seen that even this is from God’s hand,
because who can eat and who can enjoy life apart from him?” (Ecclesiastes 2:24–25).


In all of Scripture, with its sweeping poetry and prose, that was “my verse”—is my verse, I should say. In that moment of pride, I began to doubt my seemingly simple choice. I was afraid that, out of context, it misrepresented my faith and understanding of the gospel and downplayed my affection for God. I’ve since come to realize just how accurately it still reflects my relationship with Him and the sin that so often distracts me from Him: my heart’s unfortunate tendency to wander.

I’m easily distracted, you see. By work. By striving. By perfectionism of the textbook-definition variety. And when I get caught up in working and worrying, spinning myself into a cycle that pushes God away from the center of my heart’s affections—that’s when He reminds me of what’s true. He gently squeezes my heart in such a way that I’m forced to acknowledge the emptiness I’m feeling, the deep ache I work so hard to numb with the distraction of productivity, when I try to live my life with my gaze affixed on anyone or anything “apart from him” (John 15:5).

The Westminster Shorter Catechism posits that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” In my own walk with God, I’ve tended to focus on the first part, on what it might mean to glorify Him. I’ve twisted the idea of bearing His image into a works-based, legalistic, shallow religion that has very little to do with my God.

But to enjoy Him. To be satisfied in Him. To delight in His Word. To stop and savor His provision and the work He’s called me to, not just for what they might become in the future, but for what they are today—well, that sings of enjoying relationship with my very relational God, the one who is ready to answer when we call out to Him, when we seek Him with all our heart (Psalm 119:145). His Word is a very precious gift that instructs us on how to best live this life He’s given us (v.153). And it is clear: in knowing Him, being in His presence, there is abundant joy and eternal pleasure. But apart from Him, we will never be satisfied (Psalm 16:11). This is the instruction my wandering heart so desperately needs.

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40 thoughts on "I Have Not Forgotten Your Instruction"

  1. Justina Robinson says:


  2. Justina Robinson says:

    In knowing God we are given abundance and joy and without he we will never be satisfied. I connected to that because I always think I need to be working or figuring out career plans when really it’s in God’s hands he knows the desires of my heart and as long as I stay true to his word I will get everything that God has planned for me. Amen!

  3. Kim Finley says:


  4. Laura Smail says:

    Of all the verses in the Bible, this one is probably the most challenging for me. I have been walking with God my whole life, but I cannot honestly say that I have ever truly enjoyed my life. My life has always felt like a constant struggle. I want to enjoy my life, but I am overwhelmed by loneliness and depression most of the time. I need prayer for help finding joy.

    1. Gina Snow says:

      I’m right there with you. I view myself as a “struggler,” always wrestling with life and its issues. And then settling into depression and loneliness. I’m in recovery from a mentally dark season. I’m constantly having to realign myself with what God says—I am never lonely without Him. I may have moments of depression but I must believe and savor His closeness to me. I must accept His presence. When I forget to do that I fall so hard. Praying for you!

  5. Brandi Young says:

    This is so good! I, too am easily distracted and wander…. I get caught up in the rat race and checking off to do lists and forget to really sit with him and not just go through the motions of “quiet time” I’ll be practicing more intentionality with my Jesus time in the future!

  6. Tshepiso Baeba says:

    I too id have to say ..this has touched me from deep within. I now understand that the emptiness or the thirst is often quenched by distractions. But as we know temporary solutions will never Quench the thirst that Only God can fill.Thank you Lord ..Let me Run to you

  7. Kayla says:

    I related to this so much! I often find myself striving to serve God and others only to be left feeling totally drained and questioning whether it was even all worth it. But recently, a mentor told me that in order to serve God and others well like we strive to do, we need to first stop and let Him fill us up. When we take time to pause first and just rest and delight in His Word & His presence first, then we will be able to truly bring an outpouring of His love into the world and bring Him the most glory! Working from my rest can be difficult to master but is truly what I am learning during this season of quarantine.

  8. Susan Crosby says:

    Oh Kara you have spoken deeply into my heart. From the hymn of old…Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing…these lyrics describe me so often…Prone to wander,Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love…so often I to find myself distracted and drifting instead of having my mind and heart focused only on Jesus. I am so grateful for a loving Father who gives grace to me even when I am prone to wander.

  9. Latisha Miller says:

    I really needed this today. Thank you Lord.

  10. V. M. says:


  11. Amy E says:

    “And when I get caught up in working and worrying, spinning myself into a cycle that pushes God away from the center of my heart’s affections—that’s when He reminds me of what’s true. He gently squeezes my heart in such a way that I’m forced to acknowledge the emptiness I’m feeling..”

    This hit home tonight. It’s such a simple truth, and yet I find myself needing this gentle reminder so often it seems. Thank you Jesus for always reminding me of what’s true. Your love for me is matchless. Your glory beyond compare. Praise you God for all your goodness and mercy. May I strive to seek you and your presence through the Holy Spirit each day without exception or distraction. Amen

  12. Dionne says:

    Reading everyone’s posts have me feeling hopeful that we are in this together. We are all praying and asking God to keep our wandering hearts on him. Through him will we find satisfaction, peace, joy, and hope. All the things we strive for on a daily basis and look for from things or people who distract us.

    I wake up several times throughout the night to get my daughter back to sleep, we’re currently trying to help her sleep through the night and without the help of a bottle. In those times I’ve been praying more and more. I talk to God, especially when my heart is feeling particularly heavy. I’ve noticed now more than ever that in doing this I feel peace, connection, hope, and security.

    With everything going on in the world these days, I felt it extremely necessary to pick up and start my journey (I’ve always known God to be God, I’ve always prayed, and believed. But for the longest time I’ve been distracted, with God at the back of my mind) to be closer and walk this path he has for me, for all of us. I felt it in my heart this need to better seek him and follow in his word.

  13. Rhonda J. says:

    Prone to wander, Lord I feel it….one of my favorite hymnals! I had to youtube it to hear it and sing it!

  14. Dorothy says:

    I needed this devotional today. I strayed form the devotionals for several days now and have finally got caught up. Kara spoke to me and so did the scripture. I will be reading everyday again because I noticed what a difference it makes in my life.
    Glory B. thanks for the encouragement but part of it has to do when I can arrange to get off. I am a private duty nurse for a little almost 5 year old girl who needs a lot of assistance. She can’t walk on her own and she has no bowel or bladder control.
    Cara P. you are definitely in my prays. I do know what it is like to lose a child suddenly but not to violence like you did. My son drowned, it will be 17 years the end of this month.

  15. Sarah D. says:

    Throughout Psalm 119, I have constantly been seeing the theme of “I will obey your statutes”, “your word is completely pure”, “the entirety of your word is truth”, “your word is a lamp for my feet”, and so much more. Just this one chapter in Psalms repeats over and over again the truth and authority of Scripture. Unfortunately, my sister and her husband believe in picking and choosing out of the Bible what they agree with. But as a Christian influencer I follow said, by cherry picking parts you like and don’t like, you twist the Gospel and end up creating your own religion all together. You don’t believe in God, but in yourself. Praying that I would be able to show this to them and that God would soften their hearts and open their eyes to the REAL, unshakable truth of the Bible.

  16. Rachel Reekers says:

    So I’ve recently become familiar with the musical Hamilton and the lines from one of the songs played through my mind while reading this morning “you will never be satisfied”. I often strive to find satisfaction in the world forgetting that true contentment and satisfaction are found the beautiful grace of God and his wonderful words. The cry of my heart is to find satisfaction in him. The world and all it’s pleasure alone will never satisfy. He alone is the supplier of enjoyment and satisfaction.

  17. Maura says:

    I appreciate all of your comments. I have been thankful sometimes in the very early morning 2 am or 3 am whenI cannot sleep that SRT is already posted and I can fix my eyes on Jesus and let the restless thoughts fall away. I too will pray for those God beings to mind and for His peace to wash over me. He does hold us in loving and Everlasting Arms. May we all know and feel them holding us this day. Hugs Sisters!

  18. Lindsay C. says:

    My husband and I have been wanting to move forward in some areas of our life for a while now. We have taken many small steps forward (doing the next right thing as they say) and so far no paths have been cleared. We aren’t hearing any confirmations from the Lord and I definitely related to the psalmist today as he cried out- answer me, save me, help me, hear me, rescue me, redeem me, give me life!

    What a comfort Kara’s words were, and a needed reminder. Enjoy Him, be satisfied in Him, delight in His Word- for what they are today. I have no idea what my future holds or why God is stationing us here for what feels like so long, but I can trust that His presence is enough. There is abundant joy in that alone. Help me to remember Lord and give me eyes to see. Amen.

    1. Violetta Reum says:

      Amen, Lindsay! I have been in your place and I pray with you. It’s so hard to not see what the future holds but may you still have peace and delight in the everyday!

  19. Peggy Pappas says:

    I am amazed how God gives exactly what we need at just the right time. I too smiled at v 148. I am awakened several times during the night these days and am finding more and more believing friends and family struggling with this and realizing God is waking us to pray and for His word to flood our minds especially if we have been meditating on it daily as we do in SRT. Who can enjoy life apart from Him? He tells us apart from Him ww can do nothing. My prayer today: I will not forget your instruction (153). Keep my wandering, distracted heart focused soly on You, my God and Savior!

  20. Ashley White says:


  21. Cyndi Bunton says:

    I love reading these devotions every morning! Some mornings, it is like it was written just for me!

    P.S. There is not a verse 12 in Psalm 16.

  22. Mari V says:

    Wow… I actually read comments before I posted and it seems like we all go through this. Churchmouse, It’s almost as if you took the words right out of my own mind.  Just yesterday I was sharing this with a friend how I had not been able to sleep well. She told me during the sleepless nights it’s time to pray for people. And yes I’ve done that in the past I start to pray for people that come to mind. But this is also a not so good memory for me, (trigger). I remember those sleepless nights all too well when I would be awake in the middle of the night, crying out to God, praying, and sometimes praying for others to keep my mind off my own problems. I had so many sleepless nights back then. So much hurt, and fear and wondering when was this going to end. So when I have them now they remind me of those times. So when they now  I begin to pray to God to help me through and heal from those awful memories.

  23. Cindy says:

    Oh, thank you Kara… your words hit home… “ . I’ve twisted the idea of bearing His image into a works-based, legalistic, shallow religion that has very little to do with my God.” I’m afraid this is me. I spend much time wondering if I could ever deserve Him, even tho my heart knows that’s not how He operates. My head needs to stay out of the way, and I am affirmed in your words…

  24. Tiff says:

    This week has been stressful between work and trying to prepare for a major final certification exam in a month. The stress, maybe amplified by PMS, is coming out in a way that makes me feel a perpetual underlying anger, which sounds like the incredible Hulk lol.

    I feel bogged down by work and studying, not confident about the exam nor my discipline to study for it.
    But it’s all something to bring to God. I’m not alone. I have more than enough faults that would make me fail, but God can change that through His grace and power. I don’t have to do this alone. He’s been there for me since the start of the certification exams nearly 2 years ago, prompted me to go through with them with passages from Joshua 1. And since then, for all previous exams during this journey, He’s reminded me within a few days of the exam with verses from the same passage. He will be with me every step of the way. I just need to be in His presence, in His Word.

    I can doubt myself daily, but I do not doubt God to keep His promises to fulfill His will.
    Lord, give me strength to believe in You. Allow me to turn to You through prayer and reading the word to be confidently rooted in your ways. You will be with me and will deliver me as you have been before. In Jesus’s name, amen.

    Thank you SRT for prompting me to think about our favourite verses today, prompting me to bring my struggles to Him, and for the prayers you pray for us in the community.
    My go-to verse is Psalm 56:13. :)
    See you tomorrow!

  25. Lisa Z says:

    I love this community! Sure not alone when it comes to sleeplessness! I have never been a great sleeper, getting older does not help. Also struggling to solve my problems and those of the world rather than meditating on His presence leaves me frustrated.
    Love the idea yesterday of reading 1 Cor 13 everyday. I am committed to doing this and going to ask a friend to join me. Also going to invite my extended family, prayer group and small church group to join. In this tense time, as always, “what the world needs now is love, sweet love.” I confess the times I have been more a part of the problem than the solution. I have wanted to be right and righteous more than I have wanted to Christ to others. Loved the comment yesterday about the heart melting like butter. I love butter! When warm and soft, it can be poured out and shared. Cold and hard, it is immovable.
    Thank you all for sharing your hearts and wisdom with me. This study, and y’all, keep me pressing on. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  26. Nads says:

    Amen to that. I have a little person who sometimes wakes me in the middle of the night and I always pray won’t, primarily because we ALL need precious sleep but, also because from 3am-5am, the enemy and I magnify my problems, my worries and most of all my self-doubt, blame and regret!! Oh how I would love to join the Psalmist in using this wakefulness to meditate on my incomparable, loving Shepherd. I love you, Lord. Thank you that You are mine and I am YOURS!!

    Ladies, please pray for my little ones as they go through a humungous transition in their lives, and that hubby & I would be unified always and have the wisdom to make it safe & wonderful for the kids.

  27. Wendy says:

    We can feel like sleepless nights or early mornings are unwelcome….and those times can be so exhausting but these verses remind me that even then, there is a beauty of that precious time with the Lord. He satisfies in it all. Thank you, Heavenly Father

    ‘I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.’ Psalm 119:147-148

  28. Michelle says:

    As my other devotional reading today – Jesus Always – led to the same message. Let the Light of My Presence shine on you as you rejoice in My unfailing Love. “Thank Me for watching over you always and loving you eternally. Affirm your trust in Me; express your devotion to Me. Then ask Me to illuminate the way forward – helping you sort out what needs to be done today and what does not. Deal with problems as you must, but refuse to let worry or fear become central in your thoughts.” Keep returning your focus to Me as often as you can, and I will light up your perspective.
    I’ve been working on this a lot lately, trying not to worry about the day and what needs to be done and just reminding myself “God’s got this”, the day will play out as it’s supposed to play out as He’s in charge”.
    I hope all SRT sister’s has a blessed day today.

  29. Angie says:

    During my husband’s Covid, pain in my leg and ankle from my fracture, and now the preparation for school, I am awake in the night. Sometimes it is an inability to fall asleep until 3 am. Other times it is waking 2-3 times throughout the night and struggling to go back to sleep. Most often I use the time to pray for people. Sometimes I work on scripture I am trying to memorize. Sometimes I thank God for lists of things and people. But, I will be honest, when I’m still not asleep and it has been hours, I start to get anxious (knowing how tired I am going to be the next day). Except recently I came to the conclusion that I don’t need to be frustrated or anxious about it. If I’m going to be awake, what better way to spend my time! Scripture, praying, and praising. I will probably be very tired but, God will help me through, period. Stressing about the wakefulness robs me of joy and glorifying God. So lately, I have been thinking about scripture, praying, praising and even sometimes picturing myself curled up in my Father’s arms of comfort or kneeling before Him in worship. And, I am at peace.

    It is such a constant: battling my “self,” laying “whatever” down and trusting Him, holding onto His peace. Sometimes I do great and then I pick stuff up again. The thing is, just like the children that I teach every year who are trying to get better, to learn new things, and do what is good/best/right must constantly work on it, so must I. I love my students right where they are and see what can be for them. God loves us/me right where we are are and already sees us for what He knows we will be and who He created us to be. My love for my students seems huge to me when it is like a molecule of the length, breadth, and depth of God’s love for us. We just need to keep resting in it and operating out of it as He guides.

    I am not always there but, He loves me right where I am and continues to draw me closer. And this child of His, is thankful and humbled by His great Love.

    1. Ashley S says:

      I love your line, “Stressing about the wakefulness robs me of joy and glorifying God.” I feel like I could use this exact sentence and replace “wakefulness” with a number of things in my life. Really good reminder :)

  30. Lizzie says:

    Psalm 119:156, Hebrews 4:16, John 17:21-26, Romans 8:25-28
    I am His, one with Him, walking in His love, grace, mercy, compassion, and instruction.
    Yes Lord, take my heart and let it be clean and pure for you alone. Thank you for your love in my weakness, your goodness to me and the church family. Thank your for the people you have put in my life who are examples and encouragement, thank you for the trials that bring my focus back to you. Lord, you are my good shepherd, my hope.

  31. Taylor says:

    Prone to wander, Lord I feel it! Kara, thank you for this devotion. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I SO needed to read this. I think part of the reason I stopped reading my Bible for almost 2 weeks was that it started to feel like a mundane chore. And while during those two weeks of not spending time in the Word felt very emotionally heavy and burdened for me, I knew God was still working. He was still drawing my heart back to His and showing me that all my other strategies to find peace and find happiness apart from Him were useless. My goal for today and the following week is to truly ENJOY Him. To allow myself to be satisfied by Him and Him alone. To delight myself in His Word. I’m thankful that SRT provides a platform to do exactly that <3

  32. Kristen says:

    I was also up and worried! I am a teacher, and there are so many unknowns for the upcoming school year. This truth hit me recently. Jesus made a way for me to reverently come to the Creator of the universe! He knows what will happen and isn’t shocked by this. I can ask for wisdom and help. Oh, but how I go back to worrying. That’s how I’ve been handling things for a lot of my life. I need to be sick and tired of this pattern! May God help me to remember His Word and go back to prayer each time the worry creeps back in.

    On a different note, I was reminded of John Piper’s teachings when reading this part above: The Westminster Shorter Catechism posits that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” There are others teachings that he has done on this. This one is called: How God Made Me Happy in Him. Here is a link in case you want to listen: https://youtu.be/-cRkUt4glaE

  33. Melanie says:

    I was awake at 3:30 this morning and couldn’t calm my mind from all kinds of worry! The enemy is so active in those times. Finally got up and came to read our verses for today….. I actually laughed! What a sweet reminder that God knows my heart and my struggles and meets me where I am. I dont post much but glean so much from all of you!! In fact when I got up so early I thought …. well, I know Tina is awake:)

    1. Susie Glaze says:


  34. Churchmouse says:

    I am all too familiar with being “awake through each watch of the night.” Sleeplessness is not my preference but occurs way too frequently, more so during this Covid crisis. Unlike the Psalmist of Psalm 119, I’m not always awake because I’m meditating on God’s promises. I’m sometimes worrying about my to-do list or trying to solve problems, the world’s as well as my own. The psalmist has the far better approach. Meditating on His promises would certainly keep my to-do list and every problem in proper perspective. God’s promises remind me that God is in control, working all things out so I don’t have to. It’s an ongoing struggle to turn my wandering and worrying to prayerful submission to His will and His way. It’s a work in progress. I’m grateful for His patience. I take delight in His Word during my morning quiet time – but in the dark of the night, it takes more effort. Like the psalmist, I remind myself that He is near and that He is compassionate towards my failings and fears. These facts give me the desire once again to open the Book and saturate my soul with its Truth. The Lord never slumbers nor sleeps. I am under His watchful care. I remind myself that these truths are the best sleeping aids. Amen and good night.

    1. Leslie Warnick says:


    2. Kat C says:

      Thank you so much Churchmouse for these words. I wrote them out fully in my journal because they spoke to my heart, and echo so much of my own struggle with sleeplessness, worry and prayer. Thank you for your honesty and encouragement to keep turning to God’s true, good and beautiful promises each and every day and night.