How to Remember Our Stories

stories

The stories behind this story.

Forty years. That’s how long it had been since the Children of Israel had crossed the Red Sea on dry land. People were still talking about it. People who were enemies of the Israelites, that is. These enemies heard about their conquests of other kings as well. That’s why Rahab hid those spies Joshua sent into Jericho.  She knew it was just a matter of time until her city would fall into the hands of the Israelites. Rahab had heard about their God, and she wanted to be spared when they came to take over her city. This woman remembered everything she had heard that had happened years before!

Because of her faith, Rahab and her family were spared when the conquest of Jericho happened. You can read about that here.  You will especially want to read chapters two and six, verses 22-27.

Following the conquest of Jericho, the Israelites finally found rest in the land that had been promised to them 450 years before. Sometimes they thought it would never happen, but it did. Hadn’t God said it would?!

They digressed in their faith and repented, over and over again. God continued to be with them and to bless them even though they failed Him over and over.

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Forgotten Stories

Eventually, Joshua, their leader died. Scripture says that after Joshua and his generation died, the people did not remember or know about the mighty works God had done.

How did this happen?  How could they not have known?!

Was it so familiar to them that they failed to realize the significance and power of their God? Was it so familiar to them that they no longer stood in awe?

Was it just a part of their history and not a part of their personal experience?

Who didn’t tell them? Who failed to recount the stories of the miracles God had performed?

  • Forty years of wearing clothing and shoes that never wore out.
  • Forty years of daily food in the form of manna.
  • Forty years of water provided abundantly, whether through streams in the desert or water gushing from a rock.
  • Forty years of wandering in the wilderness because of the sin of unbelief.
  • Forty years of following a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
  • Forty years of wilderness travel with a tabernacle set up for worship each time the cloud stopped.

It’s easy to think, “Shame, shame!” on those people who had raised their children in that wilderness. It’s easy to think they should have remembered.

Have we been guilty of the same? Have we failed to pass on the stories of our faith journeys?

There’s only one way to pass on a story to those younger than us and those not yet born.

There is only one way to remember: tell the stories again and again and again.

Somebody failed to tell those stories. Somebody failed to pass it on. Somebody failed to set up memorials so that when his children asked, “What does this mean?” he could say, “Let me tell you what God did for us.”

Silence stills the stories.

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We need to tell the stories

  • to help us remember and continue to praise God.
  • to remind us of His power and His presence in our past.
  • to help us face the Giants and Red Seas of our todays.
  • to give us the courage to face conquests of tomorrow

Telling the stories:

  • is like marching around Jericho.
  • gives us hope for our tomorrows.
  • is a way to pass on the stories to our children, our grandchildren, and those not yet born.
  • keeps us from forgetting
  • guarantees that generations will grow up knowing the stories and believing in their truth.

Ways to tell your stories

What stories do you have that you have not shared?

What stories are you passing on to your children and grandchildren?

What stories have you not yet told?

How do you tell your stories?  How do you remember – or do you forget to remember?

What symbols do you use to help you remember what God has done? 

Use the gifts God has given you. Use your gifts so that your descendants can one day ask you, “What does this mean?” and you can tell them the stories behind the story of God’s faithfulness.

When God parts the waters of your Red Sea, when He shuts the mouths of lions, when He fire-proofs your furnace, when He uses one stone to slay a giant, when He causes the walls of a city to fall flat, we need to remember. When He heals and restores, when He provides a way in our wilderness, we need to remember. We need to remember so that our future generations won’t forget what God has done.

Joshua used twelve stones from the Jordan River for a memorial.

Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”  [Joshua 4:4-7]

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What You Could Use

  • If you are a seamstress or a quilter, use old fabric to help you remember a person or an event. Make a wall-hanging or a quilt. Each piece of fabric can tell its own story.
  • If you love to do clay, pottery, or decoupage, create a design with a specific symbol that will help you remember.
  • If you are an artist or a photographer, create a photo or collage that will have your kids asking what it means. Use that opportunity to retell the story of God’s faithfulness.
  • If you enjoy words, use poetry or a written story, perhaps using online sources such as Snapfish or Shutterfly.
  • If you delight in music, write a song and use it as a wall hanging so that others will see it and ask you about the song. Sing the song to your kids and grandkids “so that you do not forget.”

Tell your children and your children’s children. Don’t let your stories be silenced and forgotten.

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Here are some other options for telling your stories. Check them out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Speak or to Strike – That is the Question

Obedience can be as simple as speaking instead of striking a rock.

We were following the story of Moses, the great leader of the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land.

“Only problem was,” I told the class, “that after all those years of leading the people, God told Moses he would not enter that land of promise.”

“Huh?” the kids asked.  “Why not?”

So we read the story.

“Tell me what God told Moses to do,” I told the child who was reading the story to the rest of us.

She read the words, “Pick up your rod and go speak to the rock, and water will come out of the rock.  So Moses took up his rod and struck it, not once, but twice.  And water came out of the rock.”

“Did it matter that he didn’t follow God’s way to do it?” I asked the class.

“Well, water still came out of the rock,” one of the kids replied,  “I mean, they needed water, and God sent water from the rock.”

“True,” I told the kids.  “But did Moses do it the way God said to do it?” I asked.

Eyes wide in amazement, they just looked at me.

“God said, speak to the rock, and Moses struck the rock, not once, but twice,” I told them.  “So did he do it the way God told him to?”

Heads shook in reply.

“And that is why,” I told the class, “that God told Moses he would never enter the Promised Land.”

Talk about legalism!

Did it matter if Moses hit the rock instead of speaking to it?  Did God really care?

It would seem not because water gushed from the rock and the people were able to get water – which was the problem in the first place.

It would seem it did matter because Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land.

For forty years, Moses followed God.  (Except for the time he became angry and threw the stone tablets with the 10 Commandments onto the ground). Moses led the Children of Israel through the desert.  He watched God provide manna every day of the week but the Sabbath.  Moses wasn’t perfect, but he did lead the people and he did follow God.

When the Children of Israel finally reached the edge of the desert, God took Moses up to a mountain and showed him the land he would never enter.

“Look over there,” God told Moses. “There is the Promised Land.  You can see it, but you can’t touch it.  And you can’t go there.  Instead, you will die here.”

That’s what happened. Moses went up into a mountain and died there, all because of that one instance. If you’re curious about the story, you can read it here.

Why God allows some people to sin without seemingly any consequences, I don’t understand. Why, at other times, justice is swift and immediate I don’t understand either.

I do know this: if God says we should speak once, then striking twice is not okay.

The end result might be the same, but the method is wrong – just because God says so.