Times of high emotion imprint us with our strongest memories, good or bad. I don't know about you, but the hard times of life leave a lingering aftertaste. Perhaps it's an unfortunate human tendency to gravitate toward the negative, and so we have to work at focusing on the positive.
Remember Old Testament stories of how God came through for His people? Whenever He delivered them, they would build an altar to commemorate that place and time.
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen--one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, "Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder--twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' Then you can tell them, 'They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord's Covenant went across.' These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever." (Joshua 4:4-7, NLT)
This is just one of many examples of God's people doing something to celebrate, honor, and remember miracles He had done.
What do I do when He comes through for me?
When light bursts into my dark valley, do I merely gasp in relief and proceed to move on with life, or do I pause to thank my Father?
I know He has answered prayers. I know He has pulled me through storms. But if someone were to ask me what God has done for me, I would have to stop and think.
What if I were to consciously celebrate those times? What if I were to play them over in my mind as my soul sang its gratitude? What if I did that daily?
It's so important to encourage ourselves in the Lord, as David did. Life presents us with many difficult times. There's no way to sugarcoat that. But in those rocky places, we can proclaim our Father's faithfulness by remembering how He has delivered us in times before. We can build altars, not with stones but with thoughts. Not in religious recitation, not out of bondage. It's taking the time to pull out those memories and smile at them again the way we smile at the knickknack on the dresser that reminds us of that wonderful vacation or the letter that reminds us of a dear friend. The edges are frayed from handling; it is a frequent gesture.
What if I made this a habit? A habit of praise--how beautiful would that be? How much peace would that bring? It would build faith and confidence like nothing else. "I know I'm facing something hard right now, but look what God did for me last time and all the times before. I was never abandoned, I never went hungry, He was always on time."
Every time we ponder His faithfulness, it's like adding another stone to the altar. The more we rejoice, the higher it builds, and the more naturally our thoughts will turn to this goodness again. This way of life is one of overflowing peace. I want that.
What we habitually think about affects our entire perception, which in turn determines how we experience life. I know that when I start a day mulling over the problems and negative things going on, my day will follow suit. But how wonderful would it be to enlarge our experience of God's greatness and love? To focus on that instead, and begin to recognize it at every turn?
Let's begin today. Let's begin right here. If you feel comfortable doing so, please share something God has done in your life. There's nothing so encouraging as realizing that what He did for someone else, He can do for me. For you. For any one of His beloved children. I'll be adding a few comments of my own.
And let's not stop here. Let's begin to form a habit of thankfulness and praise. Let's build altars and return to them again and again.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. (Psalm 34:3, NKJV)