I remember watching a performance at the theater and liking it so much that I kept the ticket and glued it inside my notebook. The ticket itself wasn’t worth much, just torn yellow paper. Yet, I kept it because it meant something to me – a remembrance of a play worth watching.
Life gives us many moments to remember: the first time we drove a car, the first time a child went to school, maybe the harsh break-up of a failed romance. Whether the circumstance gave us extreme joy or incredible pain, we can say that our experience marked us.
In the Bible, I find many instances where people like Abraham and Joshua and David created remembrances of the milestones in their lives. They built altars of worship and thanksgiving to God; altars that could stand as remembrances or mementos of God coming through for them; of God showing them His goodness.
After the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, Joshua had twelve stones carried from the middle of the river to their camp in Gilgal. He built an altar to mark this experience. It was not to be forgotten. The parting of the Jordan River was an awesome miracle to show the Israelites that the Almighty was with them. Their entry into the Promised Land was filled with God’s power and presence. Adonai was faithful to His promises.
When we are in difficult situations, do we remember how faithful God is? Do we believe that His presence never leaves us? Do we see Him as all-powerful? It is good to create little remembrances or mementos to help us remember God’s love for us on hard, difficult days. We can remind ourselves that God sees us; that God loves us; that God is faithful.
Remembrances and mementos have a way of transcending a single moment, a way of affecting future generations. Joshua said this to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” (Joshua 4:21-24)
When children ask us who God is and what He has done for us, are we prepared to give them an answer? If we hold a memento of victory; a keepsake of God’s love, then imagine how quickly the memory can come rushing back to us. With our testimony, they – AND other people– will know that the Lord is powerful, worthy of awe, and faithful.
Our altars don’t have to be made of stone. They can be anything that reminds us of God’s goodness. In fact, we can be creative with our mementos. Perhaps a song can be composed, or a painting drawn. Maybe we can take a photo or dedicate a page in our journals for our testimony. Our “altars” should help us remember God’s goodness. They should make us stop and say, “Thank you, Lord!” They should prompt us to worship Him who is worthy of all exaltation.
Let’s start remembering. If our milestones are important to God, then they should be important to us.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.