01 November 2011

Mementos to the Lord

Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, "Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, 'What do those stones mean to you?' then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever." ~Joshua 4:4-7.

Many times we read over tremendous and mind boggling things in the bible as though they were insignificant. I'm reminded here of a sermon I heard where the charismatic preacher read something in the text and was absolutely dejected at the reaction from the audience or lack thereof.

"Didn't you hear what I read?" He asked, "Christ is in you!"

That is indeed significant, but sometimes we become too familiar and simply don't appreciate what is being said or read.

One such example is in the text above. Joshua 3 finds the Israelites at the banks of the Jordan river about to cross over into the 40 year awaited promised land. So long had been the wait that all those who begun the journey were now dead. It was a completely new generation. With no bridge in sight, no rafts or boats, obviously many were wondering what was going on. That day God did something tremendous. Almost precisely 40 years earlier he had parted an entire sea. This particular time, he was going to suspend the flow of an entire river so that the water flowing downhill would pile up in a heap. It must have been an awesome sight!

In Joshua 4, God asks the Israelites to make a memento, something that everytime they looked at, would remind them of that great day when He stopped a mighty flowing river so that His people would inhabit the land he had promised them. 12 stones were to be picked from the river bed and stacked up to form a memento.

What can we learn from this?

I began by saying, "Many times we read over tremendous and mind boggling things in the bible as though they were insignificant."

Well, many times we go through very significant periods and moments in our lives and yet move on with life like nothing ever happened.

Here are two facts that do not compliment each other. Fact one: God answers our prayers and blesses us beyond what we ask and even imagine. Fact two: Many of us do not have a habit of remembering the things that God does for us. Infact, may of us are not good at keeping any sorts of records of our lives at all. Yet clearly, this is a big deal for God.

It was a big deal for him that the Israelites then, as well as those to come, remembered this wonderful thing he did. It is no different with us.

It might be an operation we underwent, perhaps a birth in the family, the finding of a spouse, academic success, a sickness survived, finding a place for school, finding a job, completion of a building project etc, things that we have been praying for, or hoping for and God undertakes for us in such a great way, do we have any way to store and remember the great things God has done and is doing for us?

It could be by way of a picture, or an object or a piece of writing framed and stuck up that everytime we see, can remind us of God's goodness and greatness. It could be a box in which we store and throw in various mementos and pull out every year to remember and share God's goodness to us.

How often do we see God's hand at work, then thank him and move on like nothing ever happened?

It would make much of him if we formed mementos that remind us of what he has done so that we can even share his mighty undertakings with others who ask after the mementos, "What does this thing mean/represent, what is it for?". We can reply, "This serves to remind me of the time when... And God came through for me!"