The Art of Remembering
The Presence of the Lord is intimate. He sees all of me and smiles anyway. His tenderness, even when I am full of shards and broken pieces, warms my exposed and raw edges. As I feel my shoulders come down and my eyes come up, I recognize once again the peace that already belongs to me. And again, I take it to myself…remembering.
I remember His goodness because my soul desperately needs the reminder. I remember because I forget. Now, that may seem an obvious thing to declare, but the simple sweetness of this simple obedience is not lost on me. At least, not anymore.
I do the work to intentionally remember…so I won’t unintentionally forget.
Let’s read together from the 4th chapter of Joshua and the stones they set up just on the other side of the Jordan. They were preparing to enter battle. They were preparing for the Promise Land. There was certainly hard work ahead of them and they were eager to get to it. But they took the time, knowing there would be days ahead that they, too, would need to remember the goodness and provision of the Lord.
“When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 ‘Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.’
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 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, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 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.’
8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.”
The Lord knows us so well. He is not surprised by our forgetfulness. Not at all. So He decreed the practice and intentionality of remembering. Visually, with standing stones, and audibly, with deliberate retelling of the provision and goodness of God. I recognize that with the dirt I traverse each day, there is much that just doesn’t stick or cling to me as I would hope it would. The miles blur, and though I am genuine in my gratitude, I confess that when the next hardship comes, I often find myself straining again to find relief. To discover, again, the faithful God I know and to testify to the heritage of provision and grace that has already been delivered.
You see, I need standing stones. I need them to be tall and I need them to be strong. You do, too. We all do.
You may not like the comparison, but I imagine that you and I are not a whole lot different than the Israelites were so many years ago. They were stubborn. They were quick to forget His promises, and even quicker to wipe His testimony of provision from their memory cards. No. We are not much different at all.
When we witness the goodness, mercy, and provision of God in the land of the living, it is an event worth remembering. And, Lord knows, we are a forgetful people. We need to fight for their position and placement in our lives on the other side of that deep water and deliverance. And like those rocks and stones that were heavy and, I imagine, awkward to carry, the testimony of what God has done is also worth the effort to stack.
So, here’s the question – to you and, quite honestly, to myself – what are you doing, today, in this very season, in your intimate and vulnerable spaces, to intentionally stack your standing stones? Stones, not the stumbling kind, but the remembering ones?
It’s gonna take some work, I’ll admit. As you begin to gather those stones (yes, they are already there, ready to be gathered), you might even find yourself grunting or asking for help to hoist a particular stone just a bit higher. Trust me, I’m grunting, too, as I lift and stack. But I can testify that it’s a work worth doing.
Can you feel His pleasure as you stack it up? I can. At the end of our days, may we have a loud and mighty testimony, not of hardship or tragedy or pain or disappointment or loss, but of victory and restoration, joy and vision, purpose, provision, and…HOPE!
It’s there. Every day I see it, stack it, a bit more. And my towers of remembrance are growing.
May we be a people who value enough the provisions and breakthroughs from the Lord to take time to remember and establish them. And then may we possess the vision boldness to declare them both to ourselves and to the next generation that our God truly is who He says He is.
Faithful. Just. Sovereign. And oh, so very good.
The song I want to share with you today is called, “My First Love,” (featuring Jeremy Camp) off the new album released by Mandisa. This woman sings from a place deep down. So worth the listen. Praying for you as you listen, that you will start, this week, to pick up your own stones and take the time to remember your First Love and all that He has done for you.
With joy for the journey,