On September 11, 2001, I was in 5th grade. I didn’t fully understand what had just happened but I knew from the reaction of my teachers and the voice of my principal over the intercom that it was something tragic. The desk I tapped my fingers on; the fear on the faces on my friends; the pause of schoolwork to watch the news for the day — it’s all etched in my mind still. Forever. And not just for me, but for many people.
There are other things that are not so easily remembered – some of my former addresses, for example. Also memorizing scripture word-for-word. Yet somehow I can remember every lyric to Nelly’s songs from the 2000s. Sometimes it feels like I forget the things I should remember and remember the things I should forget.
So I make a habit of trying to remember some awesome moments in my life. When I speak at a conference I usually preserve the badge & I started to collect key chains from different cities as well. I have a piece of petrified forest from the Navajo and Apache counties of northeastern Arizona taken from a childhood trip. It is important to memorialize things because significant life moments could otherwise be forgotten.
As I look back to different seasons in my life, I want to be able to remember where I came from and how God got me to where I am at now.
There’s a moment when the Israelites have just crossed the Jordan River and enter into the Promised Land after journeying through the wilderness. Since their meals consisted only of manna for 40 years (except for one month when they had quail and many died as a result), I would expect that they would almost immediately be on the hunt for some milk and honey. But before God delivers on his promise to them, he has them stop to build a memorial for future generations to look at.
Joshua 4:1-3 says:
1When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. 3 Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’”
It’s a reminder to me that we should make a practice of going back to the season we just came out of and pick up some stones. How many treasures might be buried in your past for future generations to learn about God?
I recently had a chance to film an interview with a gentleman in our church who has seen God move mightily on his behalf many, many times. I can’t wait to share that encouragement with everyone! You have some things in your life that you can share with others too. It is significant that you make it a practice to stop and do so.
For the Israelites, the memorial that God wanted them to build was a reminder of how powerful the Lord’s hand is. Joshua 4:20-24 says this:
20 It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River. 21 Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. 24 He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”
This is very inspiring! I know that the same God that dried up the Jordan River and the Red Sea will dry up Rend Lake in Southern IL for us if it serves his purposes. Their memorial is a reminder that what God did on their behalf will be done for future generations. God’s faithfulness in the past builds a strong faith muscle for an expectant heart to arise in each of us and believe that he will do it again!
The Israelites were about to engage in many different battles on route to occupying the land God was giving them. Anytime I am about to face significant challenges in my life, I seem to ask myself the question, “Do I have what it takes?” And every time God says no you don’t but I do.
He is mighty and powerful and has a history of working on our behalf. Looking back, the wilderness wasn’t so glamorous but it was certainly much better than the slavery they were in before that. The lessons they learned there taught them to have greater faith and their dependency should be on God alone. I have learned that even our past hurts can breathe life into others. There’s a chance that you hold the key for someone else to experience Christ and win a battle because of the journey that he has brought you on.
So what are you doing to preserve God’s work in your life for future generations to look at and learn and grow from? There are a ton of ways you can do this: painting beautiful portraits, making a video testimony, blogging your journey, utilizing social media for its positive attributes, creating a memory wall to serve as a daily reminder, and taking tons of pictures and having them put into a scrapbook are just a few of the many possible ways. God has moved on your behalf and it is important to let other people know about His goodness!