Each year on the last Monday in May, residents of the United States honor and remember those who have died while serving in the U.S/ Armed Forces. Different from Veterans Day, Memorial Day marks a federally recognized holiday with the invitation to call to mind the sacrifice of others. Often we see the graves of those who have passed decorated with American flags. This affords the opportunity to remember how those who have gone before us helped our country. This holiday offers space to remember and reflect with gratitude.

Memorial: Something established to remind people of a person or event; intended to commemorate someone or something.

I find myself pondering memorials in the Bible. A notable memorial occurred after Joshua led Israel through the Jordan River (see Joshua 4). God performed an amazing miracle by halting the waters and drying the land so that the nation of Israel crossed on dry ground. After passing through the dry river bed, God instructed Joshua and all of Israel to make a memorial.

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. 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. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day. (Joshua 4:4-9)

Those twelve stones reminded the people of God’s provision and faithfulness. God made a way for Israel and wanted all future generations to recognize and recall His movement on their behalf. God helped Israel and He did not want them or their children to forget. This seemed to connect to Memorial Day in my mind.

Reflecting on those who have helped us in the past often inspires and helps us in the present. We realize the courage, challenges, and convictions of others as we remember. Unfortunately, we tend to forget and believe our experience today is “one of a kind” and that no one else has faced such situations in the past. As Solomon declared, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The memory of the past can help us live humbly and honestly in the present.

God commanded Israel to create a memorial to help them remember. The stories of the past about the miracles and provision of God deepened the faith and dependence of many in Israel. I desire for that reality to be true today as well. Noticing God’s help and activity in the past propels us with hope and encouragement toward the future.

Another type of memorial from the Bible arises from Samuel’s experience with Israel. After Israel confessed their sin against God and turned back to Him, Samuel cried out to the Lord to rescue them from the hand of their enemy, the Philistines. The odds were against Israel, but it pleased the Lord to help Israel.

The Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:10-12)

God saved Israel in this battle, and like Joshua years prior, Samuel set up a memorial to remember. I wonder about the memorials in my life. Beyond government holidays, how do I remember? Do I live cognizant of God’s help in my life? Do you?

What ways do we remember God’s faithfulness and share that legacy with our family, friends, and the world?

God helps us in both the big and the little situations of life. Nothing is so insignificant in life that it doesn’t deserve our active remembrance and gratitude to God. On Sunday, I flew from Denver to Philadelphia – God helped. Both of my heavy bags arrived at the baggage claim and the Hertz bus was just outside the door – God helped. I picked up my rental car and drove an electric car for the first time – God helped. I meandered through winding roads behind Amish carriages, yet made it to the hotel before dark – God helped. Tomorrow I join the staff at Black Rock Retreat to care for them and offer enrichment in their journey with Jesus – I trust that God will help. God’s faithfulness in the past emboldens us to live courageously, confidently, and with conviction in the future.

Wonder about how God has helped you. 

Looking ahead, I plan to travel with my husband, Gary, and Michael and Nina Cherenkov, to Ukraine and Moldova for two weeks in late June and early July. There I pray to bring encouragement to war-torn souls and help to those ministering to refugees. Remembering God’s faithfulness to rescue and help in the past fills me with strength to serve.

Pause today. Thank God and recall His provision and faithfulness in all of life. How has God helped you? Tell the stories of God’s movement on your behalf. Share the way God rescued you from walking in darkness into living in the Light. Practice gratitude with family and friends by bringing to mind the mighty, the mysterious, and the miraculous help of God.

Reflect over the past day, week, month, and year like I reflected on God’s help to me. Ponder the help of God and share with others how you notice His presence, power, and peace in your life.

Find a stone when on a walk and name it your Ebenezer stone, calling to mind how the Lord has helped you. Maybe even make a memorial to put in your home or yard as a reminder of God’s help. He is Faithful!

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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Genesis 28:16-18 –  When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it.

Exodus 12:14 – This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.

Annie F. Downs. Remember God. Nashville, TN. 2018.

Catherine McDaugale. Ebenezer Stones: using an ordinary stone to remind you of our extraordinary God.  Littleton, CO. 2021.

Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.

Lauren Daigle. Remember. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nThnLyjQgbA

Hillsong Worship. Remembrance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9kbdFCSrFU

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

May 28 – June 11 – Quarryville, PA
Black Rock Retreat – Soul care and teaching for the Black Rock Staff.

June 23 – July 7 – Lviv, Kyiv, and Kharkiv, Ukraine and Chișinău, Moldova
Speaking, offering soul care, and supporting God’s servants with GTP and their partner, Mission Eurasia. If you would like to give towards the financial needs of this trip, I’d be grateful. Give at: www.gtp.org