Do you know what today is? Quite a few people probably do, but there’s a whole generation that probably doesn’t. Today is Pearl Harbor Day, the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the US military base in Hawaii. It was ultimately what propelled the United States into World War II. We’re a very patriotic family. I have relatives who served in World War II, abroad and here at home, and it’s sobering to realize how many people think that December 7 is just another day.
Not in my family. World War II affected my family too extensively to ever let it fade from memory. But a lot of that is because we have made an effort to remember it. That’s part of what it means to memorialize something–to make the effort to remember it. If you don’t, you’ll forget. And when you forget the past, you often forget the lessons you learned because of it.
Today’s verses are Joshua 4:4-7.
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He 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.”
This was something God told Joshua to do, and you have to appreciate that God understands how easily distracted we are. If we don’t have an object lesson or a symbol, it’s a lot harder for us to remember anything. That’s why memorials matter.
When you a memorial, you need to realize that someone just wants to remember something. That’s all a memorial is, whether it’s a museum or 12 stones from a riverbed. Sometimes the things we want to remember are good. Sometimes the things we need to remember are bad. But even remembering the bad things can be positive, because we remember how God saw us through or what God taught us through those difficult times.
My problem is that I get too busy to memorialize anything. I don’t take the time to build anything that will help me remember. The closest I get to it is notes in my little stand-up desk calendar. Or sometimes Facebook will remind me of something that happened in the past. And the result of that is I more easily forget what God has done for me. I am more easily distracted from God’s plan for my life because I’m too busy trying to figure out what my next step needs to be and I forget that He’s already got a plan made.
So today, I want to just stop and remember what He’s done for me. I want to build a memorial, so to speak, where I can look back and acknowledge the good and the bad and how it’s changed my life for the better.
It doesn’t take long. Just a few minutes. That thing that happened yesterday? That bad thing you didn’t enjoy? Mark it down. Remember it. Not in a sour way that will make you bitter. Just in a matter-of-fact way so you can look back on it in a few years and remember it, because in a few years it might just be the stepping stone you needed to help you achieve your dreams.
Don’t take anything for granted. Even the bad stuff. God’s big enough to use it all, so we need to have faith big enough to trust Him. And faith that size comes because you remember what He’s already done for you.