Thursday, November 5, 2015

Stones of Remembrance

Life is about living, about moving forward, about the next thing. We plan. We humans are planners. It's in our nature. We plan for what we're going to have for supper tomorrow, what appointments we have next week and where we want to go on vacation next year. We plan for the future. Our future. Our kids' future. All of the possibilities of the future. We plan, plan, plan. We look forward. We anticipate. It's what we do. But what about the past? All that has already happened? What do we do about that?

I recognize that this is a "for every mile of road there are two miles of ditch" conversation. I know some people get caught up in the past. They get stuck in a moment or happening of their past and they can't move forward. But that's not the case for most folks. Most folks, especially those of us in these middle-kid-raising-career-focused-marriage-growing-parent-caring-survival years of life, are so focused on What Comes Next that we rarely even think about what we have lived through already. But we ought to.

In the Old Testament of the Bible there is this crazy story about Joshua leading the Israelites across the River Jordan. The Israelites needed to cross the river so God told Joshua to tell the people to prepare themselves for a huge step of faith. Joshua did as he was instructed and God absolutely showed up. When the priests stepped foot in the river, God stopped up the water from flowing so all of millions of  Israelites could cross in and to safety.

Once they all reached the far side of the river, God wanted to be sure that the Israelites never forgot that He showed up for them that day. He wanted them to have a tangible reminder of that unbelievable occasion.  He wanted a monument to His faithfulness to be built - not because He needed the accolades but because He knew His children would eventually get so busy looking forward that they would forget the past. 

God wanted them, and their generations to come, to look at this monument and remember that He showed up for them that day - and that He would continue to show up for them everyday. So the people built a monument. They collected twelve stones - Stones of Remembrance - and they piled them beside the river to mark how far they had come and how much God loved them. They piled them there so they could look back and remember.

I think we don't collect enough stones in our life. We don't take the time to build monuments of remembrance to mark the places in our life that God has shown up and done something magnificent in us. We are so focused on What Comes Next and how we are going to problem solve our way into the future that we forget that God is and has always been so present with us. This intense forward focus makes us forget that worry and problem solving is not for us. It's God's job the work out the solutions that lie ahead. It's our job to trust and obey. Sometimes we need to pause and look back to see what God has already done and rest in the truth that He will show up for us again and again.

These are the thoughts that came to me when Sarah Bessy, author of Out of Sorts, issued an invitation to her launch team to participate in a blog link challenge. She gave us a writing prompt to work off of, I used to think ________ and now I think _______. 

In preparation for this post, I sat down and put pen to paper. I was looking for 'that one thing' that fit the challenge. That one thing that was the key to my metamorphosis but as I stared at the black sheet of paper before me I realized that there was no one thing. There were a thousand things that triggered, fuelled and sustained the continued growth and change in my life. 

I am different that who I used to be. Different than I was last week, last year or five years ago. I feel like I am constantly changing in connection with my relationship with Jesus. My faith grows but so do the list of questions. My confidence continues to blossom, my mind is sharper, my trust is deeper, my strength is bolder. I am more of me in Christ than I have ever been but its happened - and is happening - gradually, like summer turning to fall, one beautiful leaf at a time. The change of colour is so subtle that its hardly noticeable until one day when you look up and realize that the world is alive with colour in a new way. Suddenly, everything has changed and it's beautiful autumn and you can hardly remember what the world looked like before.  That's me. I'm autumn. I am full of colour and change and loss of what needed to go in preparation of the Thing that is growing deep within me. 

I am a gradual work in progress but if I take a moment and look back I can see my Stones in the road, my moments where God showed up and brought me to a place of safety. Let me collect some of my Stones here. Let me build a monument to remember. Let me show you how God has Been and will continue to Be. Let me remember.

*I used to think that though I couldn't earn God's love, I could prove to Him that I am a good investment but now I think that the truth of God's lavish love for me is proof enough that I am worthy.

*I used to think that being 'used by God' was the highest form of approval but now I think being chosen and loved by God, from the beginning of time, is the only approval I need.

*I used to think that my abilities qualified me to serve God but now I think God, in my weakness, is what makes me malleable and full of purpose.

*I used to think that church was the place we went to worship but now I think that The Church is all of us with our lives surrendered in every day acts of worship that look a whole lot like loving and serving and kindness and acceptance.

*I used to think that God was all about grand gestures but now I think God is far more into intimate, authentic, small moments.

*I used to think that any acknowledgement of my talents was pride but now I think God gave me gifts and talents to use for His Kingdom purposes and I get to celebrate that.

*I used to think that people not liking me was the worst thing ever but now I think not liking myself is worse.

These are some of my stones. Each stone has a story, a moment and a message. Each stone is full of intimate, heart breaking change. Each stone holds a truth that goes beyond words. Each stone is oh so precious and unique. And there are more of them, more stones waiting to be discovered. Stones that I am unearthing and polishing day by day. There are things I am still figuring out and moments and places where God is still at work. My monument is the cathedral of my soul. It's a work that will never be complete but with each passing year it becomes more evident, more beautiful and more fragile somehow. 

These are my Stones of Remembrance.

"And these stones shall be a memorial for the children of Israel forever."
~Joshua 4:7


Sarah Bessey said...

This is so powerful and good! Loved it and thank you!

Katherine Fischer said...

Thank you for sharing your monument! It is truly beautiful. I think taking the time for these "stones of remembrance" is something we all need to practice more. Thank you for this!

Nancy Roe said...

So good!! I need more of this remembering! The history of the Jewish people in the OT discloses the importance of making space, ritual, and celebration to remember HIM, because WE so deeply need this! Thank you!