This week I’ve been thinking a lot about “memorials”. The reason it’s been on my mind, is because I’m at a place in life where I need to be building more of them. Here’s what I mean: when God led the Israelites out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land, He stopped them and told them: “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder - twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Use these stones to build a memorial. then, in the future when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’, you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:5-7)
The Israelites had been wandering for 40 years, and they had seen God do some amazing things. He delivered them from Egyptian captivity; He parted the Red Sea; He provided manna in the desert; and He gave them the Ten Commandments. Now, after forty years, they were finally arriving in the land God had promised to them. But before He let them enter the Promised Land, He stopped them and said, “Grab some stones and build a memorial.”
I can imagine that some of the folks were probably a bit irritated at this delay - because after all, how could they forget all that God had done for them? But what God wanted them to do was more than just casually remember past events. The Hebrew word used here for “memorial” is “zikkaron” - which means a “sign, symbol, or marker that evokes remembrance.” It was a word used to describe something that was a memorial designed to help remember the past in order to impact the present - and build hope for the future.
In other words, it’s not just a memorial to remember the past - but it’s to build our confidence for today, and tomorrow. And that’s something we all need. In our busy and hectic lives, we can easily forget moments when God has drawn near to us, when He’s provided for us, when He’s given us wisdom, or when He’s been faithful to forgive us. And when we forget, we can easily get overwhelmed by our circumstances - and fear the future.
That’s why it’s important for us to make time to build spiritual memorials in our hearts and minds. It’s important that we take time to remember - and to write down, or share with others what God’s done for us. Remembering these spiritual memorials will give us a better perspective on what God wants to do in the present - and His direction for the future. So today, join me in taking time out of the busyness of life to build some memorials to God. Think back over the past week, month, year, several years - and remember how God has met your needs. And then take time to say thank you to Him, and share those memorials with others who can also be encouraged.