In Memoriam (By Matt Vince)

Memorial Day, a day set aside for us to remember those who gave their lives in service of our nation and for our freedoms. We also observe Veterans Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day. Additionally, we have numerous monuments in our nation’s capital: the Washington Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the National World War II Memorial, just to name a few.
As a country, we have much that we ought to remember from our history – good and bad, triumphs and failures. This why we have these holidays and monuments; to remember.
In the book of Joshua, chapter 4, the people of Israel were given very specific instructions from God for one such memorial. As they were preparing to enter into the land that God had promised them, they are told that they will make their official entrance by walking THROUGH the Jordan River (during the annual flooding season) on dry ground. While the people were making this trek, 12 men (one representative from each tribe) were to take a stone from the middle of the river. The reason?
“[T]hat this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever” (Joshua 4:6-7 ESV).
The people were to remember how the Lord had worked in a miraculous way to bring them into His promised land. AND they were supposed to tell their children about it!
I believe that we all ought to take a cue from this passage to set up monuments and memorials in our homes to remind us of those special and miraculous ways that God has worked in our lives! We ought to be always looking for God’s hand in everything we experience, both the good and the bad. And while it may be harder to see sometimes how God has worked immediately – like seeing victory over illness only after months or years of battling it, or experiencing restored relationships after decades of separation. We need to acknowledge and commemorate these events, for us to remember but also for us to share with the next generation!
They don’t always have to be big and elaborate either. I’d be willing to bet most of you already have several around your home or office, like pictures commemorating a wedding, the birth of a child, or (especially this time of year) photos and a tassel commemorating God helping accomplish your education milestone. But there are other ways we can memorialize the works of God.
For example, here are a few monuments I have:
  • A box full of encouragement notes and letters from dear friends received while serving together at camp in the summer. They are a testament to God’s working in and through us as we ministered to hundreds of children and teens.
  • A small stone I have on my dresser was taken from outside the Colosseum in Rome to remind me of the 10 teens that God saved during a mission trip I was on.
  • A program from one performance of a drama group I was in during high school when 72 teens responded to the call of God.
God is always at work in our lives in unique and special ways. What are some of the unique and special monuments that you will raise in your home and life, so that when the next generation says, “What does this mean to you?” you can be reminded as you tell them of the amazing ways that God showed up in your life?