Edmund Burke once said, “Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.” I tried to tell this to a group of fourth graders who were complaining about having to learn about the events surrounding our country’s quest for independence. They didn’t think that was a good enough reason to make them read five pages in their History books. But I do…
God also seems to think it’s a good enough reason for us to study history. Joshua chapter 4 begins just after the nation of Israel had finished a miraculous crossing of the Jordan River (on dry land, during flood season). The first thing God tells them to do after they are all safely on the correct side, is to assign one person from each of the twelve tribes to grab a rock from the center of the (still dry) river and to build an altar with these twelve stones. Why? To serve as a memorial of what God had done for them, and to be a conversation piece for their children. (See Joshua 4:1-9).
After Israel had been living in their God-ordained land for a while, they forgot what He had done for them and as a result, He allowed them to suffer at the hands of the Philistines. When they, under Samuel’s leadership, decided it was time to turn back to God, He put them to the test to see just how determined they were to follow Him again. While they were assembled to offer sacrifices to God, the Philistines showed up to attack them. Samuel cried out to God on their behalf, and the Philistines were defeated. Guess what Samuel did? That’s right, he set up a memorial for the people to see and remember how God came to their rescue. (1 Samuel 7:2-13)
I’m guessing by now you know where we’re headed today… If we aren’t creating memorials of God’s love, faithfulness, mercy and grace, if we aren’t creating memorials of lessons He’s taught us, how will we remember? How will we avoid having to learn those lessons again? How will we teach others what we’ve learned?
Most of my memorials are in the form of writing. This blog is turning out to be a bit of a memorial for me. I keep a journal of what I’ve learned about and from God. You may have a similar way of remembering. Or, your memorials may be more concrete. My pastor told us about a family who placed a large rock in their yard to remind them of God’s faithfulness after a particularly difficult season. Perhaps you have a piece of jewelry, a sun catcher, a bookmark. However you choose to remind yourself of something God has taught you, the important part is that you remember. In remembering, we are able to move forward.
What’s something God has done in your life? How do you choose to remember what He teaches you?