As the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry land, they were commanded that a man from each tribe should take a stone from the river and they should erect the stones at the place they encamped that night as a reminder of God’s might in damming up the water so they could pass through. This was to be a memorial to future generations to remember the miracles God had done in establishing the nation of Israel, and it was to remind them to give reverence to and obey the Lord.
As believers, it’s important for us to erect similar reminders. When God carries us through a particularly difficult time, keeping a tangible, visible reminder of God’s presence in the midst of our turmoil will help us the next time we face daunting circumstances. We need to be reminded of all that God has seen us through in the past in order to face the future with courage and conviction.
These aren’t idols — the memento itself did nothing to save us. But they bring to mind all that God did for us. When we look back over a series of these reminders, we see clearly the path God has led us along, from a place of bondage to one of grace. They also allow us to see the trajectory that God has us on, the direction He is pointing our life, and to move forward confidently knowing He is leading the way.
I’ve kept a variety of items as reminders over the years. One example is a watercolor painting I bought from the son-in-law of the pastor Megan and I served with in Prague. At the time, I bought it with the idea of supporting this young artist and having a keepsake of this special trip with my daughter. But over time, as God has continued to complete the picture He is composing, its significance has increased. It reminds me of how God provided for the two of us to take an extraordinary mission trip in the midst of significant challenges. God provided miraculously and completely for that trip despite Randy being laid off just before we had to commit to the trip. God used that trip to inspire my first book, and ultimately the International Mission Force series, and to inspire Megan’s college major, study abroad experience, and passion for sharing the gospel around the world. The ripples of that one dip of our toes into the waters of radical obedience continue to widen.
What have you kept as a reminder of God’s faithfulness? How does it encourage you when you are faced with new challenges?