Altars of Remembrance

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 Jordan River

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!)


“His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)


8 thoughts on “Altars of Remembrance

  1. Thank you for the great thoughts on remembering God’s goodness to us! This was helpful as I am preparing a sermon on the topic!

    God’s blessings upon you!


  2. I just experienced my first hurricane since moving to Florida. All warnings said it was going to be the worst one in many years. I obviously prayed that no life be lossed, but I ask God to spare my mobile home because I had no idea how I would replace it. God is good and faithful and spared my home with minimal damage. I built an altar of stones to set in front of my house as a sign of my thankfulness and his faithfulness.


    • Dear Jeanne, Praise God for the preservation of your home. What a great idea to set up stones outside as a reminder of this! I pray that as this event becomes just a memory, the stones would continue to be a stimulus of praise and thankfulness.


  3. I was reading the same scriptures about the Israelites building altars. I had never noticed it before this season in my life. I am currently reading the Bible from cover to cover and I am seeing a lot of things I’ve never seen before. I asked God to open up what building altars mean for us in our world today because I would like to remember all of the things He has done for me. This blog has helped me tremendously. I’m going to be creative with my altars. I can’t wait to get started!!!!


  4. This is so right on with what the Lord is laying on my heart for the church. We will build altars of remembrance towards our accomplishments, but we tend to not build them for all that God has done in our own lives. We build also memorials to remember devastation and loss or to promote unity and solidarity of each other but not for God, why? Because we are living in selfish times as written in 2 Tiimothy 3

    Perilous Times and Perilous Men
    3 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

    Thank you for your wonderful article.


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