This has been something brought up twice so far this week in devotional times at college, but I’ve also been thinking about it a lot myself.
The Israelites often set up altars, not for sacrifice, but to mark and remember important events, times when they saw God’s faithfulness to them. A particular example of this being in Joshua chapter 4; after God has parted the river Jordan for the Israelites to cross it, together they built an altar of 12 stones, one for each tribe.
“[Joshua] said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. … He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” “
I’ve been feeling quite challenged by this, because often I am SO forgetful! God will do something amazing in my life, and for maybe a few days, a few weeks, I will remember and be thankful, but after that I easily forget.
Any one know what this is? For those who don’t, it’s a thumb splint.
In school, I wrote so much that I developed a repetitive strain injury in my hand (yeah I know, what a geek!).
Sort of funny, except the injury lasted through my GCSEs, A-levels (which I got through with a lot of physio and pain-relief) and throughout my degree. I wore this splint to try to minimise the strain I was putting on my thumb, but it still got worse.
A fortnight before my finals my arm was in a sling and I couldn’t write at all (this was a bit of a problem since I revised mainly by writing).
I went to a meeting at my church, and at the end a lady came up to me and said she was wondering if I had a problem with my arm because she felt she should pray for it. I certainly did not object to this; I’d prayed a number of times for my hand before, and a lot of times the pain had lessened considerably, so I thought, “What harm could it do?” The pain did lessen, and I thought “Great!” and went back to college to get some revision done.
However, when I sat at my desk and put my splint on, the pain came back again. This puzzled me since it had been fine the whole way home. Just as an experiment I took the splint off again and tried writing without the support; it was fine! I just kept writing with no pain at all, and in my head I was thinking, “Oh yeah! I can write! I can write! Oh yeah! Woohoo!”
And now? It hasn’t hurt since!
For the next few weeks after this, every time I picked up a pen, or a plate or mug with one hand, it would remind me and I’d be so thankful. Yet, then I somehow forgot. I got distracted by other things, and the fact I could write without pain became normal.
Last week I found my splint whilst I was packing up my desk in Cambridge, and suddenly I remembered again. I’ve felt really challenged to try to not forget again, to try to build an ‘altar of remembrance’ to remind me of just one example of God’s faithfulness.
And no, I’m not going to build an actual altar (although maybe if I did it would be out of mugs and pens with the splint right on the top!). But I would like to try to remember more often, perhaps sometimes when I write, or carry a mug with my right hand. Of course, I won’t remember every time, but if I make an effort now, I hope I will remember more often.
So what would your altar of remembrance be? When has God been faithful in your life?
Challenge of the day: build an altar.
(and if you build an actual altar, I would love a picture!)