Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Building Memorials

My mind wandered yesterday to a warm September evening several years ago. During a work trip to Maryland, I met up with a dear friend of mine who gave me a one-night crash tour of our nation’s capital.

After walking by the White House, she took me over to the Washington Monument, the National World War II Memorial and then we walked up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial.

This Memorial Day I thought a lot about the World War II memorial in particular, reflecting on the sacrifices of the men and women who served in that war. They not only defended the freedoms and liberties of Americans back home, but fought for the freedom of those suffering unthinkable horrors across Europe and the Pacific.

These memorials remind us of their heroic sacrifices, and they should inspire us to live lives that will honor their memories. Lives that are marked with integrity, bravery, selflessness and love.

In the Old Testament, a man named Joshua and the Israelites set up a memorial of their own.

Between them and the Promised Land was a sizable obstacle: the Jordan River. With God’s presence going before them, the raging waters of the Jordancame to a stop and parted, allowing them to cross the river on dry ground (Joshua 3:14-17). Afterwards the Lord spoke to Joshua, instructing him to choose 12 men, one from each tribe of Israel. These men would each pick up a stone in order to build a memorial commemorating this miracle.

Joshua then told these men: “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 4:6-7)

These stones served as a reminder of God’s faithfulness, letting future generations know that He will deliver on His promises and act on their behalf when obedient to His commands.

Just as we have set memorials as a nation and Joshua did for Israel, we should set up memorials in our own lives as well. For every victory in the face of defeat, every miracle when hope seemed lost, every sacrifice that was made to help us advance, we should build memorials to remember these events.

Memorials remind us of who God is -- faithful, gracious, merciful, loving and able. Memorials help us remember the graciousness of friends and loved ones during our darkest storms. Memorials remind us of the victories we have already won.

But great memorials and monuments are not there simply for us to remember or yearn for a past that will never return. They should inspire us to press forward and take action in the present.

Memorials make us grateful for yesterday, fill us strength for today and give us hope for tomorrow. They should give us the confidence and boldness to take steps of faith and obedience today.

What memorials have you built in your own life? Which ones do you need to start building?

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