Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stones of Remembrance: In the Beginning

Stones of Remembrance have always played a significant role in the history and story-telling of God’s people. An example:

When the Israelites first entered the promised land after 40 years in the wilderness, after crossing the Jordan River in much the same manner as when Moses had parted the Red Sea, Joshua instructed them to set up stones of remembrance to serve as a memorial (Joshua 4:4-7).

The recurring theme was simply “when your children ask what do these stones mean?” you had another opportunity to re-tell a part of your story as Gods people.

In the early part of the 21st century, it’s equally important for us, as well, to stop and remind ourselves of some of our own personal stones of remembrance.

I’ve often heard it said that our experiences during the first five years of our lives shapes who we are for life. I’ve pondered, from time to time, if that might also be true in our spiritual lives. If that’s the case, then my first year as a Christian (age sixteen) yields the following Stones of Remembrance:
  1. Jesus is actually real.
    I was raised in a Christian family, but the night of my surrender to Jesus was an evening of shock and surprise. Mainly because I didn’t go to the evangelistic meeting with an open mind; I only went to placate some of my earnest Christian friends. God had other things in mind, despite my contempt for the band and my ignoring of the spoken message. “Surrender” is perhaps the best only word that adequately describes my response to God’s wake-up call to me.
  2. The Holy Spirit is alive. And well. And shows up sometimes when nobody was even expecting Him.
    I was camp staff at our denominational camp that summer, and during a prayer time with a bunch of other teenagers, the Holy Spirit “showed up” in an experience of God’s love that everyone in the room was blown away by. Doubly miraculous was that our camp/denomination was legendary for its staunch anti-charismatic bent.

    (2b. God has a sense of humor about camps like that.)
  3. Satan is not just a marketing tool for cheezy 1980s hair metal bands. But Jesus is more powerful.
    An unexpected spiritual attack—completely with visions of satanic imagery—came out of nowhere (as far as I could tell, anyway) and scared the liver out of me. But it turned out to be true what they say: in the name of Jesus, we have authority over evil spirits. Good news for those of us being attacked.
  4. Spiritual leaders who are controlling, manipulative, and abusive are a royal pain in the patookus.
    I learned this the hard way at the same summer camp; while not without my own issues, the harsh words of constant judgement and condemnation were total overkill. Almost cult-like, you might say. On the plus side, this was the first of many times where I began to learn how to sift through religious crap trappings to find the Pearl of Great Price.

And as I look back over the ensuing span of years, I find (perhaps not surprisingly) that all of the above are as true today as they were when I was sixteen. If anything, I’m more aware of the reality (and some of the implications) of each of those early Stones of Remembrance.