Stones of Remembrance – by Jill Printzenhoff
It’s been a little over two months since I started my new job, and I am still trying to acclimate. I was at my previous job for seven years, so I knew the location of all the science supplies. Anything I needed could be accessed within seconds. My files were in order, and my routine was in place. Not so with my new job. Although I am diligently working to obtain a new rhythm, I am still walking a bit off beat.
Last week I needed something from the cabinet that holds my subject binders. Standing in front of that cabinet I stared at the contents, but could not remember what I needed to retrieve. So, I walked the few paces back to my desk, and the moment I reached my chair, the mental light bulb clicked on.
I wish I could say this was a one-time event. Unfortunately, it’s not the only time I have been stricken with short-term amnesia. And there are many instances recorded throughout history that verifies I am not in a league of my own.
In a previous post I talked about the Israelite rescue. Their account can be found in the book of Exodus. By reading the account, one realizes that the entire Israelite nation also suffered from short-term amnesia on several occasions.
One of the first instances can be seen in Exodus 14:10-12. Pharaoh had changed his mind about releasing the Israelites, so he summoned the Egyptian army and set out in hot pursuit. When the Israelites spotted the Egyptians in the distance behind them, and saw the formidable Red Sea in front of them, they panicked and began to respond out of fear.
“This was your idea, Moses!”
“Yea, we wanted to stay in Egypt.”
“Slavery wasn’t so bad there.”
“At least there we wouldn’t have died in the desert!”
For a nation who spent 430 years in captivity, one would think they wouldn’t soon forget the faithfulness of their God. Yet they became completely wrapped up by the dynamics of the obstacle in front of them, as well as the obstacles racing towards them from behind. And they forgot about their recent rescue. They needed a reminder – pronto. Once again God used Moses, this time to respond to the complaints and short sightedness of the Israelite clans, and remind them of God’s faithfulness.
Exodus 14:13 NIV “Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Through further reading in Exodus we discover that God performed a miracle and the Israelites walked safely across the dry sea floor to the other side. The same cannot be said for Pharaoh and his Egyptian army, who met their demise as the wall of seawater crashed over them.
After this event the Israelites spent three days trekking through the desert, but were unable to find water. Again they grumbled, pointing the finger at Moses. And again God used Moses, this time to provide drinkable water (Exodus 15:22-25 NIV).
Fast forward to a new obstacle, the need for food, which arose “ . . . on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve the entire assembly to death’” Exodus 16: 1-3 NIV.
I can picture Moses heaving a big sigh. Shaking his head. And running a weathered hand through his long and very white beard, all the while wondering to himself if it would be less painful to pluck each strand one-by-one than continue leading the grumbling amnesia prone masses through the desert.
Yet once again, God provided through extraordinary measures. Exodus 16 gives us the account of Manna and Quail.
Still, the Israelites spent years wandering in the desert. I guess you could say they attended the school of hard knocks. Finally the land of promise was in sight, and the Lord gave Joshua the go ahead to lead the remaining group to the Promised Land. But first they had to forge the raging Jordan River. Another miracle. Another crossing. Another reminder of God’s faithfulness. But this time after they made it to the other side, they planted stones of remembrance.
“ . . . the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight. . . . In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever’” Joshua 4:1-3, 6-7 NIV.
I wish I wasn’t as forgetful as the Israelites. Unfortunately, as soon as a road block surfaces, I tend to develop short-term spiritual amnesia. But God is faithful to gently remind me – of His faithfulness.
While the last few years have been extremely challenging for our family, never once has God left us to fend for ourselves. He has always walked with us through every situation we faced, and met our every need.
As we approach this Thanksgiving season, I don’t want to overlook God’s faithfulness. So for the remainder of this month and through the end of 2015, I am keeping twelve stones on my desk for two reasons: First, to help me remember. Second, as a way to let God know how thankful I am that He is always faithful even when I develop short-term spiritual amnesia.
Will you join me in remembering God’s goodness and thanking Him for His continued faithfulness?
featured image is courtesy of morguefile.
desk photo is a personal photo