I like to make lists. They organize my thoughts and help me remember. Once in a while I'll come across an old list of mine that makes me smile. It's interesting to see what was so important to me months or even years ago. Often, though, if I do not write something down, it slowly slips into history, long forgotten. Resting in that fuzzy part of my brain are numerous phone numbers, the name of my fourth grade teacher, and what I ate for dinner two nights ago. Along with these trivial matters, I similarly find myself unable to recall times when God answered my prayers or blessed me with little miracles.
About ten years ago I made a decision to remember important things, specifically times in my life when I knew God had come through for me. I started keeping a list in the back of my Bible of times I was sure were not really coincidences. There I recorded how God provided money for us to fix our car in the form of a "random" check from grandparents. Also, I wrote about when we felt led to put our house up for sale in a terrible market, and it "amazingly" sold in three days. Big miracles and little blessings, I write them all down.
Why do I feel the need to remember? When I look back at the last ten years and see so clearly the hand of God, I am less likely to worry that he will not provide for my needs now or in the future. When I go through times of doubt, I can see this history of his hand in my life and be comforted. I do not have to be afraid that the future will be any different than the past.
When the Israelites were about the enter the promised land so long ago, God parted the waters of the Jordan for them much like he did for Moses when they were initially fleeing Pharaoh.. Joshua relayed to them a message that God had given him: “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:5-7
The twelve stones were something visible that they could point to and remember how God had come through for them in the past. It was the beginning of their list, and they shared it with their children for many generations. I wonder what would happen in my life and the lives of my children if I regularly pointed to my list saying, "This is how God's hand has been on our family. He has been holding us and providing for us for years. Do not worry or fear that he will ever let us go."
My Rock and Provider, thank you for the many times over the years that you have blessed me and my family. Help me to remember how you have upheld us, and give me courage to share these times with my children. I have faith that ten years from now, I'll have notebooks full of blessings for which to sing your praises. Amen.