By Abby Barr, Director of Operations
I’ve found that the older I get the more forgetful I become. Just as my life has become more complicated and packed than ever, my mind has also become sleep-deprived and sieve-like. To combat my chronic amnesia, I go to great lengths to keep myself on track.
I acknowledge that it is likely I will forget something (or everything) without a reminder, so I have adjusted to ensure my life runs smoothly and my family, work, and social life are cared for well.
In similar fashion, God recognizes our tendency to forget and has called us to spiritual adjustments so we can remember His works. Like the Israelites, we suffer from “spiritual amnesia” and forget God’s faithfulness (Exodus 14 & 16). As a gracious acknowledgement of our forgetfulness and His goodness, God has given us profound means to remember Christ through baptism and communion, and He provides visual reminders of his promises to us (e.g. rainbows).
God has also given us the important practice of creating our own reminders of His work in our lives and the lives of others by laying down memorial stones (Joshua 4). Just as I take time to put new appointments in my calendar or write new tasks on my to-do list, I must take time to reflect on the work God has done. Below, I share a method that works well for me (adapted from this article from Desiring God) as I work on this practice of remembrance in my life:
“This is so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God.” – Joshua 4:24
Meditate. “I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds…” (Psalm 77:12)
Thank. “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds…” (Psalm 9:1)
Transcribe/Memorialize. “Each of you lift a stone onto his shoulder, one for each of the Israelite tribes, so that this will be a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ you should tell them, ‘The water of the Jordan was cut off in front of the ark of the Lord’s covenant. When it crossed the Jordan, the Jordan’s water was cut off. Therefore these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.’” (Joshua 4:5-7)
Tell. “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’” (Joshua 4:21-22)
For some of us, these steps come naturally and are already a part of our spiritual life. For others, like myself, it takes discipline to create rhythms of remembrance. For example, I am not good at journaling regularly and just yesterday, my husband looked at me as I was purging our home of years of junk and said, “You’re not very sentimental are you?” (It’s true, I’m not.) Thankfully, God set the precedent for remembering his works not just in written word or with stones in a river (or knick-knacks on a shelf, as it were). He called us to remember him by eating and drinking. He used nature to remind us of his promises.
With this in mind, I feel freedom to engage all of my senses in my rhythms of remembrance. I remember God’s work by preparing and eating delicious meals on significant days. My husband and I go to a special place overlooking the hills of Virginia to connect and remember God’s work in our lives and marriage. As a family, we create visual reminders of His abundant blessings by hanging photos in our home. And sometimes, but not exclusively, I journal or I keep a special treasure to remind me of God’s work.
It matters less exactly how you remember God’s faithfulness and goodness in your life, and more that you do.
So regardless of how you choose to “lay down memorial stones” of God’s faithfulness in your life, I hope that these steps are a useful tool as we acknowledge our amnesia and make adjustments to the glory of God.
About the Author:
Abby has been attending Gospel Community since 2014 and has been serving on the GCC staff for nearly as long. Her greatest joy is being wife to Ryan and mother to Hudson, four, and Olivia, one. Abby’s career has included various nonprofit and church management roles, and she’s grateful to have served in those capacities for nearly 10 years. She loves great food, spending time with friends, visiting her home state of Maine, and everything about Virginia in October.