As another year is quickly coming to a close…
Some are still reeling from grief, a gaping wound, fresh on their heart. The year has held joy for those who have welcomed new life or experienced life anew. Some have traveled the world, and many have basked in the retreat of their home.
Some hearts have journeyed to places that they could never have imagined, and some to places where they never wanted to imagine.
We have all been somewhere. This year, we did not spin our wheels to nowhere.
These are trails, not destinations. We are still on our way, just passing through.
There have been friendships lost, and friendships gained. Warm embraces, cold shoulders, loyalties defended, and relationships offended.
We have risen, fallen, and stood up again. We have been weary, and we have been renewed.
Like the tale of Hansel and Gretel, we have left breadcrumbs behind, telling of our journey, and along the way, we have distinctive markers that now define us.
Markers that define our faith.
Carved into a tree, roots planted deep, or etched into stone, irremovable.
The Israelis, in the book of Joshua, were instructed to gather stones, in order to build a memorial, as a reminder of what God had done. You see, He moved water for them. As in, stopped a river from flowing, so that they could cross on dry land.
Joshua told them, “Cross over again in front of the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan River. Then each of you pick up a stone on his shoulder with which to build a memorial, one for each of the tribes of Israel. Let this serve as a sign among you, so that when your children ask in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean to you,’ then you’ll say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan River were cut off in front of the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan River, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones will become a memorial to the Israelis forever.” (Joshua 4:5-7)
They were continuing on their journey, but this was a significant part; one leg of the trip that was worth remembering. It is all worth remembering, but some places deserve special recognition. In that moment, it is worth celebrating or acknowledging, but even more so, in the days to come.
Then he told the Israelis, “When your descendants ask their parents in years to come, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ you are to tell your descendants: ‘Israel crossed this Jordan River on dry ground because the LORD your God dried up the water of the Jordan River right in front of you, until you had crossed over, just as the LORD your God had done to the Reed Sea—which he had dried up in front of us until we had crossed it also.’ Do this so that all of the people of the earth may know how strong the power of the LORD is, and so that you may fear the LORD your God every day.” (Joshua 4:21-24)
Looking back on the markers that define our faith, we see God’s provision, faithfulness, patience, grace, and more.
As we enter a new year, we will undoubtedly be journeying toward times of joy, sorrow, excitement, confusion, faith, doubt, and more. As we enter those times, we can reflect upon markers that we have erected in the past.
In times of doubt, we will remember when our faith was restored.
In times of sorrow, we will recall when our Lord sustained us.
In times of darkness, we will rest in the promise of His light.
In times of weakness, we will reflect on His strength.
In times of joy, we are thankful to our Father, forever the giver of all good things.
In times of grace, we will remember the journey.
In ordinary times, we will worship and remember.
We remember His gifts.
Let there be markers that define our faith.
Let us not forget. Let us pick up stones and etch into trees, build memorials, remember, and tell what the Lord has done for us.