"Joshua said to them, 'Cross again to the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the sons of Israel. Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying 'What do these stones mean to you?' then you shall say to them, 'Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.' So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.'" (Joshua 4:5-7)
Monday, May 30, 2011
Remember . . . Don't Forget
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to forget things? Like that homework assignment that didn't get written down in your planner or an important someone's birthday. Or maybe it's how many teaspoons equal a tablespoon or what time that meeting was. We're not often reminded to forget something, are we?
On the flip side of things, have you noticed how hard it can be to remember something? Like remembering to do all the homework assignments or the date of someone's birthday. Maybe it's an equation needed to complete the homework assignment or directions to an obscure location. Our brains often slip up on such information. We are often told: "Remember to . . ." Or, "Don't forget to . . ."
Today is Memorial Day. A day to remember those who have died in service to our country. Unless we have lost a family member or friend in battle, it can be easy to forget about such men and women, can't it? That's why Memorial Day was established . . . so that the American people would not forget. So that we would not continue to live our day-to-day lives without giving thought to those who have sacrificed their own lives in service to our country.
The LORD Himself calls us to remember such things as well. After the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land, He gave instruction through Joshua to gather 12 men and 12 stones to establish a memorial:
Also, in Isaiah 46, the LORD calls us to "Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me." (46:9)
Sadly, Americans are great at taking a holiday meant to remember and honor others and turn it into a celebration of themselves - or at least something it wasn't intended to be. Memorial Day has become to many the "unofficial start of summer", a reason for a 4-day work week, graduation weekend, a time to grill burgers. When the LORD calls us to remember, I don't think this is exactly what He intended . . . Sure, there is nothing wrong with such activities, but yet again, the focus turns entirely on ourselves.
So what can we do to honor Memorial Day as it was intended? Maybe it's as simple as attending a Memorial Day service at a nearby VFW. Maybe it's investing in the life of someone who has lost a loved one in battle; talking with them, baking for them, spending the day with them. Maybe it can be as simple as spending a significant amount of time today remembering those who have served and thanking the Lord for them. (Did you know that a "National Moment of Remembrance" exists? At 3:00 pm local time, all Americans are asked to stop whatever they are doing and spend some time in silence for those who have died in service.) Honestly, I'm not sure yet what I am going to do today to make this Memorial Day different, more full of remembrance. But whatever it is, and whatever you decide to do as well, I pray that we will remember and not forget.