“And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.” Joshua 4:20-22
One of my favorite things to do when the weather is nice is to open up all my windows and to put a fan in my bedroom window. Why the bedroom particularly? For some reason or another, no matter where I live, when there is a fan in my bedroom window, it makes the air smell just like my grandma’s house when I was growing up, particularly her upstairs and bedroom. Sometimes, I long for weather not too hot and not too cold, just so that I can have a fan in the bedroom window that blows out that smell. And when it does, I look for reasons throughout the day to visit my bedroom, to inhale deeply and to let my mind wander to another time.
Smells have that effect on me, nostalgically letting me remember times past. While the fan smell is my favorite, another smell is stuff burning. Not like a house catching fire or anything, but rather a pit-beef joint cooking or a log in the fireplace. This smell reminds me of my paternal grandparents. They live in the South and during the summer we would visit. There I witnessed something I hadn’t seen before. In the evening, they took their trash to a heap outside and set it on fire. No trash trucks to pick it up twice a week. They just light it up and watch it go.
It’s good to indulge in a little bit of nostalgia once in a while, especially when it comes to remembering God’s deliverance. After a certain amount of time goes by, whether it becomes a time of prosperity or a time of hardship, it’s so easy to forget. The daily grind and routine schedules tend to overshadow what previously occurred. That can be a good thing when someone is trying to get over hurtful things, but when one wants to remember a glorious time it can be dangerous.
The danger of forgetfulness can leave us with a warped outlook on life. “Why does this always happen to me?” “Things never turn in my favor.” “It’s useless for me to even try!” Words such as “always, never and useless” denote negativity when used this way. This negative brow beating overshadows the good. We use words so lightly, but if I were to really question, what would the true outcome be? Do things really never ever turn in your favor? Is it really useless for you to try? The answer, most likely, would be no.
Through times of hardship and prosperity, our perspective on life can get blurred. That’s why God mandated for these stones to be set up as a memorial. These stones would stand as a physical reminder of God’s deliverance; of a time when He altered nature and did the impossible just so that His people could gain their promise.
We may not have physical stones, but I do believe we have “markers” in our memory that can transport us to our time of deliverance. Things that help us to remember that no matter what state one may find themselves in now, God is still on the throne and He is still working it out on our behalf. That’s why it’s good to indulge in nostalgia. It opens the door to the good old days. The thought of it can instantly put a smile on my face. Now, imagine doing that with God’s deliverance. Sometimes we need to remember on purpose where He brought us from and how He brought us through. Set that up as a “marker” to help no matter what life may bring.