What We Need to Remember to Never Forget
“It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River.” Joshua 4:20 (NLT)
As a child, one of my favorite places to play was a bedraggled plot of weeds at the edge of my uncle’s farm. Dotted with rusty oil barrels and timeworn tractor parts, discarded soda bottles and mud-caked stones, the overgrown patch of green provided endless hours of “treasure hunting” for my young cousins and me.
We gathered pieces of shattered glass as if they were precious jewels and collected dandelions like nuggets of gold. We scavenged for gum wrappers and bottle caps, for acorns and butterfly wings. But we were most intrigued by the abandoned shanty that sat in the middle of that littered lot. Of course, with doors locked and windows sealed, we couldn’t see what was inside … until the day we began stacking rocks.
We’d been playing tag when we noticed a fallen tree limb had shattered the window just above our heads. We’d tried to lift one another up to climb through the splintered passageway, but our muscles weren’t as developed as our imaginations.
That’s when my cousin dropped to his knees and began digging in the dirt. Before long, he’d excavated a flat, hefty rock from the sunbaked soil and placed it beneath the window.
We spent the rest of the afternoon stacking stones until our arms throbbed and our fingernails turned a silty shade of brown. But before dusk’s debut, we crawled through that opening and discovered a wondrous cache of treasure — chipped coffee cups and dusty books, sagging lampshades and dingy tea towels.
“I can’t believe this treasure has been here all along,” my cousin said with an incredulous yelp. “We just couldn’t see it without our pile of rocks.”
In the fourth chapter of Joshua, where today’s verse is found, we discover another crew of children stacking stones. Of course, these kids aren’t 4-foot dreamers biding time in a patch of weeds; they are the children of Israel preparing to step into the Promised Land.
But before they move forward, God invites them to look back. He commands them to dig some stones out of the muddy riverbank they’d just crossed (while it was miraculously dry) and to stack them high as a reminder of the great things He has done. God knows that when we forget what He’s done in the past, we begin to doubt what He can do in the present.
Maybe I love this story because, like those children of long ago, I’m prone to forget. I forget my keys. I forget my grocery list. And sadly, when the spin of life presses in, I tend to forget God’s faithfulness, too.
But, maybe I love this story because it holds the secret for improving my memory. And lately, I’ve been stacking some “spiritual stones.” Not actual rocks caked in mud, just memories laced with gratitude. Each week, I’m setting aside some time to remember the great things God has done:
- The moments He’s met me in my weakness and showered me with strength
- The times He’s reached into my loneliness and buoyed me with His love
- The occasions He’s brought clarity to my confusion, direction to my wandering, and peace to my fears
And you know what I’m discovering? The more I acknowledge God’s footprints across my yesterdays, the more I see His hand upon today.
But best of all, this simple habit is a bit like that pile of rocks I climbed on at my uncle’s farm long ago — it’s opening my eyes to the treasure that has been there all along and will remain forevermore — the wondrous gift of God’s power and presence.
Dear Lord, forgive me of my forgetfulness. Help me remember all You have done in the past so I can trust You completely with today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 78:35, “They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.” (NIV)
Deuteronomy 4:9, “But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.” (NLT)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Stack some “spiritual rocks” this week. Ask God to remind you of specific ways He has shown you His presence and power in the past. Invite your spouse, your children or your friends into the conversation. Sometimes people outside of our story can see God’s involvement in our lives more clearly than we can.
Are you losing faith in God’s faithfulness? Choose a Bible verse that speaks into your circumstances right now and turn God’s promise into a prayer.
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