Comfort in a Mother's Arms
The Faith of Mystery

In Memory

Upon My Knees levels color col enh BESTHe told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”

-Joshua 4:5-7

Memorials are good. They provide a real and tangible way to remember a person or event. They can be statues, battlefields, gravestones, special days, special items, photo albums, little shrines and more. As I’ve grown older and my memory dims, I’ve begun to wonder how much I actually remember and how much is the story I’ve told myself about a photo, event or person, or the combined memories of family and friends around those things.

Lord God Almighty was well aware of the ephemeral nature of memory, as well as the busyness of life and how they can combine to make us forgetful of even the things we REALLY WANT to remember. Throughout the Old and New Testament, God established memorials, symbols and feasts with special customs and told us to never stop remembering. But after Joshua erected the memorial by the Jordan, listen to ‘the rest of the story:’

After that generation [Joshua and his leaders] died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. -Judges 2:10

Even with those stones, Israel soon forgot the mighty miracles God performed in Egypt and in the Wilderness and in the Promised Land. And before we get too critical of them, we should examine our own hearts and minds. What memorials do we keep for the mighty miracles God has performed in our own lives? I’m ashamed to admit how many answered prayers I’d forgotten until I re-read prayer journals, or found little papers stuffed in my Bible from when Pastor Bill told us to write down 3 big prayers that only God could answer. Spoiler alert: He did.

And so, if we can so easily forget the miraculous acts of our loving God, how much more likely are we to forget the acts of sacrifice made by everyday heroes? May is actually the month for celebrating many groups of selfless people: Firefighter’s Day, Nurses Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Mother’s Day, Peace Officer and Law Enforcement Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, and of course, Memorial Day which began as Decoration Day, a day to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers with flowers. Today Memorial Day honors the memories of all those in the Armed Forces who gave ‘the last full measure of their devotion’ in serving our country. We lay wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier just to be sure we don’t forget even one such precious sacrifice.

Memorial Day is a good time to be very intentional in remembering God’s amazing providence and provision for this country throughout our history. It’s a great time to think about what we mean when we say God Bless America, and about how He has, and how He continues to. It’s the perfect time to hang the American Flag, our star-spangled banner, and think or talk about what IT means, and how the sacrifices of our Revolutionary Patriots are sewn right into it in the form of thirteen red stripes. It’s a time to soberly consider all the wars and conflicts our country has been in - some for good and righteous reasons, some for not so righteous reasons – and consider what we will pray for, stand up for, vote for, and perhaps fight for in the future.

Some things ARE worth dying for. Jesus certainly thought so. Our nurses and teachers give of themselves to heal and teach us. Jesus gave himself up to heal and teach our souls. Our firefighters and peace officers die rescuing physical lives, Jesus died to rescue our eternal lives. Our Armed Forces personnel die protecting and ensuring freedom. Jesus died to give us freedom from sin and death.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the sacrifices of all those willing to die so that we might live and be free. Please put your mighty hedge of protection around all those currently in harm’s way, keep your hand of mercy upon them and guide them in your righteousness. Send comfort and Your peace which surpasses our understanding to the families and loved ones of all those who have made the supreme sacrifice in military and public service. In the name of the One who sacrificed everything for me, Amen.




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