Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Remember


I've been doing a lot of thinking this weekend about Memorial Day. Those thoughts expanded into "memorials" in general, so I looked up the word in the dictionary:

Memorial
noun
1.
something designed to preserve the memory of a person, event, etc., as a monument or a holiday.
2.
a written statement of facts presented to a sovereign, a legislative body, etc., as the ground of, or expressed in the form of, a petition or remonstrance.


My thoughts traveled back to the Sunday School story about the Israelites placing the twelve stones in Joshua 4:


Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.

The Lord told Joshua to have the children of Israel prepare a memorial. This memorial was "designed to preserve the memory." I think it is important that we as believers set up memorials in our lives that remind us of spiritual victories and lessons of our lives. It's important that we, like the Israelites, remember the faithfulness of our God. There are a few truths I notice in this passage regarding this memorial that I think can instruct us on constructing memorials in our own lives.

1. It was purposeful. Memorials don't just "appear." They are created by the person who participated in the event or the person who knew the person being memorialized. The many memorials in Washington DC didn't just pop up. They were built with the sole purpose of reminding future generations of the great victories and hard work of our forefathers. Memorials in our spiritual walk are the same way, we must create them with the purpose of remembering all that God did in that specific situation.

2. It was public. Joshua, per God's command, had the men place their stones in a place that could be seen by all. This wasn't a hidden memorial. It was viewable by both the Israelites as well as the heathen enemies of Israel. This memorial spoke to God's faithfulness and deliverance of the people, and His promise was never something the Israelites hid. I'm not saying we need to create massive memorials to God in our front yard :), but what I am saying is that I believe we shouldn't worry about hiding away the things that God has done for us.

3. It was prominent. I don't think the men of Israel were picking up pebbles! I picture a decent size pile of rocks. The memorial was prominent. It was something that God indicated would be seen by generations to come. It would be a talking point for all those that passed by in the future. Again, thinking about Washington DC memorials, they are huge! They are noticeable, and they are conversation starters. Our spiritual memorials need to be prominent in our lives so that they cannot be easily forgotten or removed. Place the reminder in a place that you see often so that you can effortlessly be reminded of God's faithfulness and goodness.

4. It was permanent. Joshua indicates that this would be a permanent structure because the Bible says in verse 9, "and they (the stones) are there unto this day. God's faithfulness will never end, so let's create memorials that will remind us for years to come of how God moved in our life.

I want to do a better job at creating memorials of all that God has done in my life, don't you? What practical ways can we do this? I would love to hear your ideas!




Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Ugly, But Honest, Truth

A confession about my quiet time that became all about me.I'm in Florida. Fort Myers to be exact. And it is GORGEOUS. It's been 75 when we wake up and then it warms up to near 90. The sun is hot, the breeze is refreshing, the water is perfect. Time doesn't matter because we have no schedule. I wish I had a money tree so I could just stay here forever. I'm not even sorta joking. haha I've already determined that if I ever win the lottery, that I don't play lol, I will most definitely buy a home in Florida. It's a different world here. I've spent the last 5 days waking up next to my honey whenever we happen to wake up, then we make some coffee and have a few cups while we sit on the lanai reading and studying. Ya, this is the life. 

Like all good bloggers do, I felt the need to capture this moment of my devotion time with God so that 1. you could experience with me how amazing it is to spend time with God in this incredibly beautiful outdoor space where God's creation is undeniable (I can't explain how great it feels to spent time with God in a place like this with no clock to worry about. I can just read and study until I'm done, not until a specific time. It truly is so refreshing!) 2. I would feel like a "great blogger" because I would perfectly capture the scene with a photo that would showcase both my photographic abilities as well as God's beautiful world 3. you would know that I am spending my vacation time with God. (Let's be honest, we all want others to know we are working on our walk with God, right?) So, towards the end of my study time the other day, I was just so overwhelmed with the setting around me as I read God's word...sitting next to my honey, delicious cup of coffee (white chocolate mocha creamer, of course), birds singing, sun shining, breeze blowing, cute new journal for my studying which just happened to look so cute with my iPad cover and purple Bible. It was the perfect moment and I needed to share it! I truly wanted to post the picture in a "thank you, Jesus, for this incredible moment: this is awesome" kind of way, so I began to "set up." You know what I mean, position the coffee cup just right, hold my Bible so it perfectly captured the sunlight, hold the camera at a crazy angle to get the golf course in the background...but it just wasn't working...so I moved ALL my stuff to another location on the lanai. Not so I could study God's word better, but rather, so my picture would come out better. I wasted a good twenty minutes and my frustrations grew as I tried again and again to show how "perfect" my time with God was.

I stopped. Convicted beyond belief. I had spent so much time trying to convince others that my time with God was perfect.  How misleading.  I wasn't spending time with Him right then, I was creating a false presentation of my time with Him. I have spent the week struggling through some internal spiritual struggles. While I've been thankful for this time to really refocus on my walk with God, it hasn't been a perfect week. I've responded with tears and frustration as God has been working on me this week. It wasn't a pretty week. It was a good week. It was a learning week, but it wasn't perfect. So why was I trying to post a perfect picture? My pride. My sin. So let me be honest, this week was rough but in a growing way! :) And I don't have a pretend picture to show you some fake "perfect" moment. Instead, I found a pic that more aptly describes my actual situation following my time with God:

Sometimes I'm pretty ugly inside, but I'm thankful that God sees me as His redeemed child, not as this chaotic, crazy mess!

I write all of this for two reasons:

1. I want to be honest with you. I struggle with how people perceive me. I want people to think I have it all together, but pretending like things are perfect doesn't help anyone. In fact, I believe it hurts both myself and others when I pretend like everything is perfect. I believe with my whole heart that Christian women need honesty, from bloggers, teachers, leaders, friends, etc. When I pretend like my walk with God is perfect, not only am I serving myself, but I am discouraging the women that I want to encourage and uplift. 

2. I want to encourage you. I seriously doubt anyone thinks I'm perfect or have it all together, but maybe you don't realize how imperfect everyone else truly is. Maybe you know everyone struggles, but you think you struggle more or in worse ways, but let me assure you, that isn't the case! I want to show you the real me so that we can all relate together. Most days life is chaotic and messy, and that's okay because He knows exactly what He is doing in you and me each and every day.

So let's stop pretending to be perfect. Let's stop trying to capture our life in a make-believe way. The world tells us we need to be perfect. God tells us to be messy in Him. It's through the mess that we truly find Him, and nothing is more perfect than that!