Last year was a mixed bag for me. Overall, it was a good year with more moments of joy than stress. There were times when I could clearly see God’s provision and love. And there were other times that I waited in silence, anxious to hear some whisper of hope from my Lord.
Honestly, that was probably a lot of us. Each day had its own ebb and flow and rhythm that we danced to, doing the best we could to care for the people in our life, keep the house respectable, and all the plates spinning.
But in the midst of the busy day-to-day, it is so important to take a moment, breathe deeply and reflect on how God has been at work. When you do, you might be surprised how much it changes you and your relationship with God.
Take the story of Joshua in the Bible. Moses had been leading the Israelites for decades in the desert and when he dies, Joshua is appointed as the new leader. His first assignment is to lead a ton of people across the Jordan river which is, by the way, at flood stage. This is not an easy task, but God reminds Joshua to be strong and courageous because He has given him everything he needs to complete the task before him. (If you ever need a good pep talk-check out Joshua 1:1-9)
Joshua obeys God and we see in Joshua 4:1-7, he leads the people right up to the edge of the water. As soon as the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant dipped a toe in the water, the water upstream stopped flowing and they all crossed on dry ground. It was very reminiscent of when God had parted the Red Sea years earlier. While they were crossing, Joshua told the leaders of each tribe to gather stones from the middle of the river, and set them up where they would sleep that night, so that they would always remember how God had worked that day, but also so that they could build the faith of others by telling them about what God had done.
So the Israelite leaders stopped and collected large stones just as Joshua had instructed them. Joshua set them up to serve as a reminder of what God had done, giving them hope and courage for the future.
It was paramount that they stopped right then and there to honor God and recognize His deeds. Their journey was far from over. They still had to go on to Jericho next and bring down a city fortress.
But Joshua knew that in the time it would take the Israelites to travel to Jericho, it would be all too easy for them to forget what that God had done to get them there. Their fear of the unknown before them would be too overwhelming and they would easily lose sight of the One who was holding everything together.
We’re not much different, are we? It doesn’t take long at all for us to forget all that God has done. We too can become desensitized to His presence in our day-to-day routines, or as we face the fearful unknown before us.
It is equally important for us to stop and recognize God’s presence, power, and provision in our lives, and the New Year is a perfect time to do just that. As we put 2022 in our rearview and look ahead at 2023, it’s important to stop and take stock of what God has done in the past and what He is doing in and around us now. As we take this time to reflect and remember, our faith and trust in Him will grow and He will grant us boldness and courage for the future. Then we are able to share with those around us how God is real and at work every day.
In every circumstance, good or bad, God has been present, active, and moving, working on your behalf. Because of His great love for you, He will continue to go before you and give you courage and strength, and hope.
What could you use as a memory stone in your life? Perhaps you could write down some of the ways you’ve felt God’s presence or seen His provision this past year, and put it someplace you will see it regularly. Maybe there were times you witnessed His power in situations where you could not have succeeded alone. One of the ways I have been filled with awe this year was seeing God work miraculously in the lives of people I love and have been praying for. You could even download the image at the top of this article, print it out, and write your own “God-moments” on the back.
However you choose to, today or tomorrow, take just a couple minutes to “set out some stones”. Remember how God has worked in the past, recognize God’s faithful presence and love in the present, and look forward to the wonderful things He has in store for the future.
Merciful God and Father, sometimes it is hard to see you at work in the moment. Please help us to see you with fresh eyes. Help us to see how you have been at work in the past, in the blessings and the tough times. Help us to recognize your handiwork, so that we can see it now, as you work in and around us. Father, you have promised us hope for the future. You go before us and call us to be strong and courageous because you are always with us. Help us to look forward to the future, with the faith and strength that you give, knowing that we are your beloved children and that you will never leave us. We trust that in the same way you led Joshua, you will lead us and provide for our every need. Help us to draw close to you and follow you always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.