The week between Christmas and New Year’s has traditionally been a time of reflection and goal setting for myself. This year I have found myself thinking about the Biblical practice of erecting “memorial stones.” The stones were erected to remind those coming after of what happened in the past. (To read about memorial stones you can look at Genesis 28:20-22. There are also many other examples to be found in the Bible.)
In my mind’s eye I like to think that an Israelite family traveling through the area would see these memorial stones piled high. One of the children would turn to his dad and ask, "Hey dad, look at that pile of rocks. Why do you think someone stacked them up like that?" The dad would then respond, "That’s an excellent question. Let me tell you about those stones and what they are here to remind us about.”
Lucky for this child the father knew what the stones represented. You would think every Israelite would know about the miracle God performed at that site and the meaning of those stones...not only that site, but the many other sites and memorials throughout Israel. You would think that those stories would become part of family history that would be passed on to their descendants, yet even such important events can be quickly lost to the succeeding generations. The memorial stones were not only to peak the curiosity of the children but to remind the adults as well. .
By simply passing on our family traditions we can create memory stones to be used as memorials - as long as the reason for them is also communicated. We are all aware of how quickly the reasons for a celebration can be lost. In our own society the days that have in the past been important days of the worship of God and remembrance of what He has done have been changed by a secular society into excuses for a day off work to play. (Thanksgiving is now Turkey day. We have a Winter Break instead of time off for Christmas.) My reason for mentioning these as examples is that if our children are to hold any of them as having any significance, then it is up to us to teach them the significance. Even God set up a tradition for the Hebrews to carry on every year from the time He brought them up out of Egypt. It is the Passover.
My life is filled with many occasions for me to gather memorial stones. There are quiet remembrances of times spent in fellowship with God. Sometimes there were battles with myself, with my friends, with loved ones and with enemies. There are times of defeat and moments of great, tearful, confession and prayer. There are occasions of mourning and memories of victories and celebrations. I have had times of letting loose and setting things free.
This all brings me to my question for this New Year...What memorial stones have I set up to both prick the curiosity of others and to remind myself of what God has done? It may be that I have set something up already without thinking about it, but I also need to go beyond and do something on purpose.
This last year my husband and I have “on purpose” re-instituted the family dinner. My girls are grown, married and have started families of their own, but I think it’s important to be intentional about being a family...our family! Their husbands are introduced to our quirks and foibles. They learn our recipes, our cooking style, and our “comfort” foods. They can begin to see how the girls interact with each other as sisters, as daughters, as aunts, as sister-in-laws and as friends.
I am intentional about spending time with my grandchildren. Time spent re-counting stories of my childhood, of their mother’s childhood, and of important things to be remembered. Who were those who came before us. What I know of things past...
BUT, none of those times together can create memorial stones in our life unless they have significance for each of us. Can we identify with each other? Are we encouraging and teaching each other? Are our memorial stones a place of refuge and safety? A place where we can return to God? Are we creating interactions with the living God for each of us? Have we met Him? Has He spoken to us? Did something ever happen between us and God that changed us and our lives forever? These are the most significant things which we are to use to erect our memorial stones.
Memorial stones are those places we can return to when we need spiritual communion with God. These stones are memories we can return to for encouragement and comfort in times of loneliness and trials. We can use the stones to teach our children, friends and family. Memorial stones are places to benchmark where we are in our relationship with God and to measure how far we’ve come on this journey called life.Do YOU have such memorial stones in your life?
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
"The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth" (Luke 3:5).