“Remember,” He said.
“Remember that I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt. Remember what I did for you. I loved you so much I rescued you.”
God’s faithful love for the Israelites, His chosen people, was evident in a powerful way as He parted the Red Sea and protected them, enabling them to escape on dry land.
But it was much easier to remember how hungry they were. How scared they were. How tired they were. How good it was back in Egypt where they were slaves, yes, but they had predictable days. And bread. It was much easier to believe the ten spies who told them stories of insurmountable obstacles in the promised land than Joshua and Caleb who knew with God’s help they could conquer their enemies. It was much easier to focus on their fear than how God had rescued, protected and provided for them in the past. Their lack of faith cost them forty years of wandering in the desert. One year for every day the spies were in Canaan gathering information (Numbers 14:34).
After Moses died, the LORD commissioned Joshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus) to lead His people across yet another river. To the Promised Land. A raging, flood-swelled river. The Jordan. But, before God issued those instructions He wanted Joshua to get ready. He reminded Him, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5) I am faithful. My love for you has withstood the test of time. I will protect you. Trust me. Persevere. Meditate on my word day and night. Be strong and courageous. For I will be with you wherever you go.
In Joshua 3 we read that as soon as the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the covenant touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing and “piled up in a heap” in a town far away. When the whole nation of Israel had finished crossing the Jordan the LORD told Joshua to choose twelve men (one from each tribe) to take up a stone from the middle of the river and put them down at the place where they were going to stay for the night (Joshua 4:1-2).
“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. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:5-7).
In other words, as with The Passover, God wanted His people to remember His faithful love to them. How he had protected, provided and blessed them. He knew that life would get hard again. That there would be distractions and defeat that would threaten their confidence in His faithful love. He knew that they would need frequent reminders of His love for them, of how He had displayed that love in the past.
Like the Israelites, I’m good at forgetting God’s faithful love to me as well. I can easily become consumed with my fear and frustration instead of trusting in the One who has provided for and protected me for five decades. I often focus on my circumstances and rely on my own strength and then wonder why I feel like things are hopeless. It is only when I shift my focus back to God’s faithful love for me that my confidence is restored and trust returns.
A few years ago I began reading Linny Saunder’s blog, A Place Called Simplicity. This mom to many and pastor’s wife described her family’s “Memorial Box”, a box where they placed small objects that reminded them of a time when God had been faithful to them. It gave them visual reminders that His faithful love is trustworthy. When they were trying to trust Him in a new situation or when they were scared and wondering how an impossible detail could be resolved, they were reminded of how He had provided for them in the past. This strengthened their faith and helped them to persevere with love.
I wanted this visual for my own family. A legacy of God’s faithful love to us. Times when we prayed and asked Him to move mountains, times when He showed His attention to the details of our lives, gave us our heart’s desire, helped us find something that was lost or helped us believe. We started our own Faith Box, and I love when we bring it to the table about twice a year and take out each item, telling the story it represents and remembering God’s faithful love for us. It strengthens my faith every time. It reminds me to trust, hope and persevere.
Because God’s love is faithful.
Jesus also asked us to remember. During the last supper He shared with His disciples He said, “This is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of me…This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (I Corinthians 11: 24-25) In the ultimate expression of love, Jesus died for us. Once and for all. To forgive our sins. So that we could be right with God. Oh, how He loves you and me and He wants us to share that love.
As Christians, we are “little Christs”. Disciples of Jesus. He said in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
When I remember how much God loves me, when I remember His faithful love to me over years of heartache and joy it spurs me on to love others. To show people in my communities and the world at large that faithful love as modelled by our Heavenly Father always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.
Jennifer Hiltebeitel and her husband, Eric, live in Malvern and have been members of Hope for almost 20 years. They found this church through the yellow pages in the phone book about three weeks after they returned from their honeymoon. Jennifer is the Director of the Orphan-Widow Ministry at Hope, leads a small group of 7th-8th grade girls on Sunday mornings and looks forward to studying God’s Word every week with her Morning Light friends on Wednesday mornings. She and Eric are blessed with two daughters, Skyler (16) and Cameron (12).