Lest we forget

8 02 2012

11 November is a day of remembrance  for those who gave their lives in two world wars, and in subsequent conflicts. People stand still in supermarkets, on street corners, at war memorials, to remember. It’s a national memorial day.

There is something moving about a nation remembering together – remembering both what did happen in their history and what might have happened.

So when God tells Joshua to have the people build a memorial, it serves two purposes – it reminds them of their coming together as a nation and of God’s deliverance, but it also reminds them of the nation’s rebellious years of wandering in the desert. It provides a focus for what to tell future generations so that they don’t forget what God has done – “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.”

That’s the public memorial. But there is a quiet insignificant line in the story which tells us Joshua’s personal response.  He goes back to the scene of God’s intervention and builds a memorial of his own. I wonder what motivated him to do that. We’re not told, but I think it may have had something to do with personal gratitude that God has kept the earlier promise to be with him and to equip him as Moses successor. His memorial is not on public view, but it is a significant personal deal between him and his God.

I have personal memorials – pictures, artefacts, “bits” – that remind me of times when God has done something significant in my life. (Maybe its sad that I need the reminders but I’d rather have them than risk forgetting.) They are nothing spectacular or showy, but then remembering is not always a public deal.

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