Thursday, March 19, 2009

Marking Memories

There are specific events in our lives that we consider memorable. Our first kiss, the birth of our children, our wedding day or the day a loved one passed away. But often we forget the moments or events that have led us to the place we are now. We not only forgot who we were, but we forgot how we got here.

In the book of Joshua, a story is told of an amazing journey. The Israelites had spent 40 years wandering in the desert, and they were finally going to enter their promised land. Led by Joshua, they were going to live in the land of milk and honey. But there was a river to cross before they got there.

God held back the waters of the Jordan river until all the people of Israel, probably over 2 million in number, were safe on the other side.He then told their leader Joshua to take up 12 stones from the river. Inevitably, these were stones that had been made smooth by the passage of time and water. What follows is the rest of the story:

"So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, "Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." Joshua 4:5-7

I believe God commanded Joshua to do this because He knows how easily we forget. If you doubt this, ask your spouse or a close friend to recount the details of a particular event. See how they differ from yours.

Remembering helps keep us grateful. It helps us put things in perspective. When we can remember good things, it is easier to hold on to the belief that whatever trial we are facing may only be temporary. We remember joys and can face sorrow. We remember peace and have hope that wars will end.

Our minds get easily cluttered with so many things. So how can we remember? Set your own stones. There are many ways of doing this, including:

Physical markers
Memory chest
Special collections

Take time to think of a recent event that was pivotal in bringing you to where you are now. Hold it in your mind and find a way to set a stone.

“When suffering comes, we yearn for some sign from God, forgetting we have just had one.”
Mignon McLaughlin (American Journalist and Author, 1913-1983)

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