Thursday, November 4, 2010
A few days ago, I finished Hebrews and was looking for the next book to read when Joshua, chapter 4, caught my eye. In the margin, I saw my own handwriting, “It’s important to remember all God has done for us.” Beneath that, I could see that I had annotated Joshua 4:4-7. At this point in the story, Joshua has just lead the Israelites across the Jordan river, and God told Joshua to choose one man from each of the twelve tribes to go to the middle of the river (which God has made dry for them to cross) where the Ark of the Covenant is being held by the priests. Each man is to get a rock from that spot, and bring it out of the river to put down where they stay that night. Joshua reveals to the people the purpose of the rocks, “They will be a sign among you. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these rocks mean?’ Tell them the water stopped flowing in the Jordan when the Ark of the Agreement with the LORD crossed the river. These rocks will always remind the Israelites of this” (Joshua 4:6-7, NCV).
I don’t remember what I was thinking when I read this specific passage last year as I read through the book of Joshua, but when I read it again, it was a clear reminder that I need to rethink things. For the past couple months, I’ve been focusing on the present, what is happening to me here and now. I’ve experienced blessings, certainly, but also more stress, grief, confusion, and heartbreak than ever before. In the thick of all that, I’ve become concentrated on all the difficulties and trials and failures I’m experiencing. And in doing so, I’ve forgotten to remember. I’ve forgotten to remember how far God has brought me, how much He has done for me, the amazing ways He has worked in my life. It was as though I forgot to grab a rock out of the Jordan when I treaded across the dry riverbed, and without that rock, I forgot that my feet had ever crossed the river. I didn’t have something to remind me of God’s faithfulness and power, or maybe I had something and forgot it was there. Either way, standing here in the thick of chaos, I forgot to remember. I only looked so far as the storm around me, and I forgot to take the time to reflect on God’s goodness.
It’s so easy to forget. To remember what God has done for you is to refuse to be consumed by the moment and to reject the temporary, to look away from the mountain before you and instead take the time to look at all the mountains you’ve already traversed. It requires time and discipline, and it doesn’t necessarily change anything about where you are or what obstacle you’re facing. But it reminds you of the One who has brought you thus far, who has dried up rivers for you to cross, walked on water to still the storm, risen from the grave to offer you redemption. He is the One who walks with us still. Maybe you need a tangible reminder, like the rocks the Israelites brought out of the Jordan. Maybe you need a routine, like keeping a gratitude journal. Maybe all you need is some time spent in reflection. As you conquer trials and as you see God working in your life, set up reminders for yourself so that the next time you’re standing on the bank of a river and wondering if you’ll ever make it across, you won’t have to wonder- you’ll remember.